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‘Top Gun: Maverick’: Shot 800 Hrs of Footage for Tom Cruise-Starrer, Says Director Joseph Kosinki

For Tom Cruise’s upcoming film, Top Gun: Maverick, the team shot 800 hours of footage, the equivalent of all three Lord of the Rings movies combined, director Joseph Kosinki told Empire.


“Out of a 12 or 14-hour day, you might get 30 seconds of good footage,” Kosinki told the publication, and added, “It was so hard-earned. It just took a very long time to get it all. Months and months of aerial shooting. We shot as much footage as the three Lord Of The Rings movies combined. I think it was 800 hours of footage.”

The action-drama is a sequel to Cruise’s 1986 film Top Gun, and is set for a theatrical release on May 27. Prior to that, Top Gun: Maverick will have its world premiere at CinemaCon, on April 28, and also be screened at the Cannes International Film Festival, on May 18, as part of the festival’s Official Selection Screening.

The story revolves around test pilot Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, played by Cruise, who is tasked with the training of a group of Top Gun graduates for a specialised mission under the command of the US Pacific Fleet.

The film, which was initially supposed to release in 2019, experienced multiple delays, partially because of the pandemic, but also owing to an extension in production to work out complex fight sequences.

Apart from the external footage, the in-cockpit sequences were apparently equally tough to shoot, with a significant amount of filming taking place in actual planes. “We had to teach the actors about lighting, about cinematography, about editing,” said Cruise, who also serves as one of the producers of the film.


He added, “I had to teach them how to turn the cameras on and off, and about camera angles and lenses. We didn’t have unlimited time in these jets. If they were going up for 20-30 minutes, I had to make sure that we got what we needed.”

The cast also includes actors Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelley, John Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, and Lewis Pullman.

Teller told Empire that actors had to be incredibly efficient. “You had to, a lot of the time, create an imaginary eyeline to where another jet would be, and when you say a line, your face better be telling the story. The sun needs to be at the right angle.”

Top Gun: Maverick will be distributed in the US by Paramount Pictures.