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In a normal year, Tom Cruise might show up to CinemaCon to wow theater owners with tales of the death-defying stunt he performed for the latest Mission: Impossible movie. While this year’s CinemaCon featured no stars in person, Paramount packed plenty of Cruise into its presentation Thursday, which offered up the first 13 minutes of Top Gun: Maverick as well as a lengthy featurette detailing what Mission: Impossible filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie called their most dangerous stunt ever.
Cruise trained for a year to perfect the stunt, which was filmed on day one of principal photography and featured him jumping a motorbike off a massive cliff into a remote valley in Norway. To train, he performed 500 skydiving sessions and 13,000 motorbike jumps. The featurette showed previews of the stunt and cameras including one mounted on a drone.
“The only thing that scares me more is what we have planned for Mission 8” McQuarrie said at the end of the video.
Chris Aronson, Paramount president of theatrical distribution, then introduced the first 13 minutes of Top Gun: Maverick (Nov. 19), as well as a new trailer. The opening captured the feel of filmmaker Tony Scott’s 1986 original, featuring the familiar stains of Harold Faltermeyer’s “Top Gun Anthem” as well as Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” as a pilot takes off from an aircraft carrier. It then picks up with Cruise’s Maverick in a hangar, working on a plane before donning his iconic leather jacket and jumping onto his motorcycle.
Joseph Kosinski directs a cast that also includes Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Danny Ramirez, Monica Barbaro, Ed Harris and Val Kilmer, who returns as Iceman. The film includes ambitious flight scenes that put Imax cameras in the cockpit of fighter jets to capture the action. The CinemaCon panel comes two years after Cruise surprised San Diego Comic-Con with the first trailer for Maverick.
Cruise is a champion of the theatrical experience and a favorite of the crowd at CinemaCon, where his latest footage received loud cheers from the crowd.
Aronson opened the presentation by driving onto the stage in a smoking, “jet-powered” cart outfitted with cinema seats, concluding a pretaped segment featuring Jackass Forever (Oct. 22) star Johnny Knoxville. It was the type of stunt common at past CinemaCons but largely absent from other presentations.
Even more than the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, worries over the simultaneous release of movies in theaters and on streaming services is the hottest topic at CinemaCon this year. Paramount has experimented by keeping many of its big titles, such as A Quiet Place Part II, for theatrical only, but did sell off The Tomorrow War to Amazon and put Mark Wahlberg’s Infinite on Paramount+ exclusively. Aronson said the studio took a risk putting A Quiet Place Part II in theaters amid the pandemic, and that risk paid off with $296.3 million globally.
“That doesn’t mean that decision is the right decision for every film,” said the exec, but “the underlying principle couldn’t be more clear: The theatrical experience is irreplaceable.”
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