Veteran Hollywood director and movie producer Steven Spielberg credited actor and producer Tom Cruise with saving Hollywood, with the release of “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Spielberg and Cruise were both in attendance at the Academy Awards luncheon on Monday (Feb. 13) when Spielberg approached Cruise and gave him a hug. A cameraman recorded the pair as they exchanged greetings and it was during this interaction that Spielberg told Cruise, “You saved Hollywood’s ass.”
“And you might have saved theatrical distribution. Seriously,” Spielberg added. “‘Maverick’ might have saved the entire theatrical industry.”
steven spielberg telling tom cruise to his face, “you saved hollywood’s ass. and, you might have saved theatrical distribution. seriously. MAVERICK might have saved the entire theatrical industry.” i have to lie down. pic.twitter.com/nYbWbgadM7
— amanda (@marisatomay) February 14, 2023
Cruise shook his head somewhat as Spielberg paid him the compliment.
Cruise and Spielberg both have films that are nominated for several academy awards.
“Top Gun: Maverick” was nominated for seven awards, including best sound, best visual effects, best song for Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand.” The sequel is also nominated for Best Picture.
Spielberg’s film “The Fabelmans,” which is a semi-autobiographical story based on Spielberg’s adolescence, was nominated for best picture, best director and best actress.
Top Gun’s Success
Spielberg’s praise comes as the movie industry and movie theaters remain in a relative financial slump after the COVID-19 pandemic saw theaters close and studios more heavily embracing direct releases through streaming services.
“Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to the 1986 film “Top Gun,” saw its release repeatedly delayed, first by complex production sequences, and then by the pandemic. Cruise insisted that the film be released in theaters once they were widely reopened. The decision to delay the movie’s release was a financial risk, but that risk appears to have paid off for Paramount.
When the movie hit theaters, it was the most successful debut of Cruise’s career. Paramount chose to extend the movie’s theatrical release through the Labor Day weekend, making it the first movie ever to be No. 1 at the domestic box office for both Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The movie’s marketing campaign focused heavily on its production value and the authenticity of its flight sequences, with actors training to withstand high-G turns in a fighter jet and the production team installing special cameras to film the actors inside the cockpits of real fighter jets in flight.
“It is aggressive. You can’t act that, the distortion in the face. They’re pulling seven and-a-half, eight Gs,” Cruise said in a trailer showcasing the production process. “That’s 1,600 pounds of force. I am so proud of them and what they’ve done. And it is heavy-duty. Putting us up in these jets, it’s very serious.”
Amid its success, Paramount brought “Top Gun: Maverick” back to some theaters for two weeks in December.
In total, the movie has grossed about $1.48 billion since its initial theatrical release.
“Top Gun: Maverick” is facing off against another sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water” for the Best Picture Academy Award.
The “Avatar” sequel has earned about $2.2 billion after its release in December. The “Avatar” and “Top Gun” sequels together have brought in about $3.5 billion for the box office.
Despite the success of films like “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” and “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which has grossed about $1 billion since it hit theaters, questions remain about the long-term viability of the movie industry and movie theaters.
Partially due to a less steady stream of major releases, ticket sales for 2022 were only about 70 percent of what they were before the pandemic.
Regal Cinemas, the nation’s second-largest chain, announced the closure of 39 cinemas in January.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.