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CinemaCon 2022: Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” Makes its Debut

Tom Cruise, long known for his strong relationship with exhibitors, is still busy shooting the latest installment of his Mission: Impossible franchise. So he wasn’t able to attend CinemaCon 2022 this week in Las Vegas, Nevada, in support of Top Gun: Maverick. One thing, however, is undeniable — he still knows how to make an entrance.

In a pre-recorded video shown in advance of a trailer for next summer’s Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, the 59-year-old star appeared on top of an in-flight prop plane soaring high above a stunning South African vista. Apologizing in tongue-in-cheek fashion for his absence, Cruise introduced both the M:I footage and a full advance screening of Top Gun: Maverick, before being summoned away by director Christopher McQuarrie who appeared in a separate plane, noted a dwindling fuel supply, and called ‘action’ on a scene.

The sequel to Tony Scott’s Top Gun, whose $353 million worldwide box office gross in 1986 helped first catapult Cruise to international stardom, has had a long and winding road. Lasting more than a decade, its development process has, not uncommonly, endured everything from changes in narrative concept and focus to production delays and, of course, pandemic-related release postponements. Finally, it’s ready to meet the world.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, who previously helmed Cruise in 2013’s Oblivion, the sequel focuses once more on Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise), who is still busy pushing the envelope of what’s possible in the air as a United States Navy test pilot. After more than three decades of service, Maverick hasn’t advanced past the rank of captain — his penchant for bullheaded rules-breaking and daredevil risk-taking counterbalancing an otherwise distinguished service record both in combat and other special operations.

When his former rival-turned-friend Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), now an admiral, plucks him from this self-chosen career purgatory, Maverick finds himself training a reconvened detachment of elite Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission whose target is an underground bunker on the brink of achieving uranium enrichment capability. There, Maverick encounters Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late friend “Goose.” Forced to confront some of the ghosts of his own past while also pushing these young pilots, and their aircraft, further than what his superior “Cyclone” (Jon Hamm) thinks is even possible, Maverick must ultimately decide whether the ultimate sacrifice this mission seemingly demands is worth it — for either himself or his trainees.


With a script credited to Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and the aforementioned McQuarrie that strikes a smart balance in telling a new story that incorporates legacy characters and new faces — some of whom have intertwined tension, and some of whom do not — Top Gun: Maverick seems poised to capture the attention and imagination of both new moviegoers and older fans who have a nostalgic attachment to the original film. The movie, which releases theatrically on May 27, 2022, following a May 4 premiere in San Diego and a May 18 screening at the Cannes Film Festival that will include a tribute to Cruise’s career, also has enough easy-to-grasp action (plus a nameless enemy) to transcend its American military roots and connect internationally.

Fresh off of 2022 box office hits Scream, Jackass Forever, The Lost City, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, each of which topped the domestic box office in their opening weekends, distributor Paramount Pictures hopes that Top Gun: Maverick will give them their fifth hit of the still-young year and prove that moviegoing audiences still feel the need — the need for speed.