On This Day: ‘Top Gun’ Starring Tom Cruise Premieres in 1986

by John Jamison
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On May 16, 1986, “Top Gun” blew the doors off movie theaters as audiences were immersed in the world of Naval aviation. Moviegoers followed “Maverick” Pete Mitchell and his co-pilot Goose as they took a ride into the danger zone. And in honor of the upcoming 2021 sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” let’s take a look back at the iconic movie.

With Tom Cruise in the starring role opposite Kelly McGillis, the high-flying action-drama became an instant classic. Cruise’s Maverick was a shoo-in for Top Gun, an elite school for the best Navy pilots. Audiences followed along as Mav went toe to toe with the likes of Val Kilmer’s “Iceman” for the mantle of the best flyer around. Cruise’s character was flawed by his impulsive nature and the mystery of his father’s death. The protagonist had to mature quickly, however, for his and his comrades’ sake alike.

In reality, however, TOPGUN exists. The Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program teaches pilots everything from maneuvers to tactics. The 12-week course truly is reserved for the best of the best, with only the top one percent of pilots able to attend.

According to IMDb, the Tony Scott-directed film had a budget of $15 million. It easily took the title of the highest-grossing movie in 1986. It made an estimated $357 million in box offices worldwide. The classic film runs roughly two hours long and has gained a cult following.

Per Screenrant, the movie had a significant impact on military recruitment. And the movie wasn’t officially sanctioned by the Navy or Air Force. But “Top Gun” directly led to a 500% increase in applications from aspiring pilots.

Because of scenes like the iconic volleyball sequence, people everywhere wanted to be part of the fun.

35 Years Later, The ‘Top Gun’ Sequel Is Finally Ready To Release

Fans will be excited to hear that the sequel to the 1986 classic is set to release in November of 2021. Originally slated for a December 2020 release, the highly anticipated follow-up to the action-packed original got pushed back a few times due to the pandemic. With a budget of $152 million, the sequel promises to deliver all the entertainment of the first and more.

Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Maverick. And the action star reportedly performs many of his own stunts in the cockpits of real planes. Unfortunately for Cruise, the Navy didn’t let him fly an F-18. But the movie will still feature mindboggling practical stunts.

According to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, “You will experience what it’s like to be in an F-18 in that cockpit with those pilots.”

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