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The Suprising Reason Top Gun: Maverick Shot A Jaw-Dropping Amount Of Footage

From "Mission: Impossible" to "Tropic Thunder," Tom Cruise has starred in countless famous titles over the course of his career, with 1986's "Top Gun" enduring as arguably one of his most memorable. Directed by Tony Scott, the film centered on Cruise's Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell: a hotshot pilot who attends the Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School and wastes little time rubbing the majority of his contemporaries the wrong way. Nevertheless, no one can deny his skills in the air, even if his cockiness holds him back from reaching his fullest potential.

Overall, "Top Gun" performed well with general audiences and left critics mixed, though it brought home a hefty worldwide gross by the time it left theaters. With that kind of performance, one would imagine that Paramount would've green-lit a sequel almost immediately. However, this wasn't the case, seeing as nearly 40 years after its premiere, its continuation is only now on its way to the silver screen. "Top Gun: Maverick" aims to debut on May 27, 2022, reuniting much of the original cast alongside a handful of franchise newcomers under director Joseph Kosinski.

The film's long gestation period aside, "Top Gun: Maverick" has suffered from numerous COVID-19 pandemic-related delays and other behind-the-scenes circumstances that continually pushed back its arrival. On the bright side, this gave the cast and crew plenty of time to perfect it, amounting to a mammoth amount of shot footage at their disposal. Here's why they filmed so much.

Filming within the cockpit of a real jet was a challenge

Much of what will make "Top Gun: Maverick" something special — regardless of its performances or story strength — is how those behind it acquired some of the shots. The production put the cast in real fighter jets and trained them for flight (via Cheat Sheet), amounting to a visual cinematic experience unlike any other. A major downside to this endeavor, however, was that getting the right footage wasn't easy nor quick, hence why Joseph Kosinski estimates in an interview with Empire Magazine that they shot roughly 800 hours of footage.

As the director explains, in a 12 or 14-hour shooting day, approximately 30 seconds or so of the material was useable. Therefore, they had no choice but to spend months in the air to collect all of the footage they possibly could. This also meant that the cast had to get hands-on with the in-jet camera equipment, which Tom Cruise was more than happy to help his co-stars with as not to waste time and funds. Miles Teller — who plays Bradley, the son of Nick "Goose" Bradshaw from the first film — notes that efficiency was truly the name of the game.

"Top Gun: Maverick" is a long time coming, and it's clear that all involved put a lot of time and effort into getting the movie just right. It likely wasn't easy digging through 800 or so hours of material to assemble it, but if nothing else, at least the editing team had plenty to work with.