How Much It Cost In Top Gun: Maverick Per Hour to Fly Real F-18 Jets
Top Gun: Maverick allegedly pays more over $11,000 per hour to fly F-18 planes; however, Tom Cruise was not permitted to touch the controls
The Department of Defense has collaborated on a variety of films, including Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Michael Bay's Transformers film series, and even the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Iron Man and Captain Marvel. With DOD support, filmmakers may have access to military weaponry and vehicles at a lesser cost; in exchange, the DOD has access to the screenplay and can request modifications, which the filmmakers might choose to cooperate with or not. However, if they refuse to cooperate, their access may be revoked, as was the case with The Avengers when the DOD protested to SHIELD launching a nuclear warhead at New York.
According to Bloomberg, Paramount paid the US Navy $11,374 per hour to fly the F/A-18 Super Hornets for Top Gun: Maverick. Glen Roberts, the commander of the Pentagon's entertainment media office, said that a Pentagon law prohibits non-military persons from commanding a Defense Department asset other than small weapons in training situations, hence Tom Cruise was not permitted to operate the controls. Cruise requested that all actors playing pilots travel in one of Boeing Co.'s fighter planes to experience what it's like to be a pilot working under the pressure of enormous gravitational forces. After completing the necessary training on how to escape from the plane in an emergency and how to survive at sea, the actors rode behind F/A-18 pilots.
The original Top Gun was a watershed moment in the representation of the military on film, as it helped rebrand the Navy in the public eye during the Vietnam War, and it resulted in a 500% increase in applications to become Naval Aviators. Many have pointed out the tight relationship between the military-industrial complex and the entertainment sector. The depiction of combat in Top Gun and its influence on viewers made Cruise hesitant to return for a sequel for years, which may have led to his taking the part in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July, a more critical military film.
It's unknown how much money Paramount Pictures spent alone on this, but Top Gun: Maverick has a reported production budget of $170 million. The investment appears to have paid off, as Top Gun 2 had the largest Thursday gross of any Paramount Pictures film. It is also on track to be one of the most successful opening weekends in Cruise's career, as well as one of the most successful opening Memorial Day weekends. It will be fascinating to see if Top Gun: Maverick sparks the same kind of debate about the film's tight ties to the military that Captain Marvel did in 2019, or if the film's exceptionally favorable critical reception and good time summer movie attitude will overpower the debate.