The blockbuster hit Top Gun: Maverick actually left over 800 hours of footage on the cutting room floor before sending it off to theaters.
Over 800 hours of footage were left out of Top Gun: Maverick during post-production, and it was an enormous amount of work for the editing team. Following the continued adventures of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) decades after the events of the original Top Gun, the sequel explores Maverick’s relationship with a team of young aviators as he tries to prepare them for a mission that involves destroying a uranium plant. As he gets to know his inexperienced team, Maverick has to figure out how to carry out a near-impossible mission against the Navy’s strict rules.
While the journey was difficult for Maverick, it was even more difficult in real life for the Top Gun: Maverick cast and crew. The cast was forced to accept the physical toll of stunt training, which involved real-world aviation techniques and maneuvers, while the crew had to deal with an overwhelming amount of footage that would have taken weeks just to watch. In an interview with Deadline, editor Eddie Hamilton reveals just how much footage he had to sift through in the middle of production and why it took a toll on him. Check out his quote below:
“[We shot] 800 to 814 hours. It was quite honestly very overwhelming at times. There was one day in March 2019 when they had 27 cameras running because there were four jets up in the air with various cameras on them, and two units filming on the ground, which added up to 27 cameras. And I remember getting so much footage the next morning and just thinking this was going to be very difficult. Also, the days were very long when we were filming the aerial sequences, it was just really intense. And the thing is, when you’ve got a lot of footage like that and a movie like Top Gun, it has to be awesome from beginning to end, because the whole audience wants it to be awesome.”
Why Did Top Gun: Maverick Need To Be So Massive?
Top Gun: Maverick was such a massive project that it nearly caused an international incident after production insisted on using a top secret military location for a shoot. Yet there does remain the question of why the movie needed to be such a major production, and why there needed to be so much footage. Considering the fact that Top Gun: Maverick used real-world planes and sets, there was serious pressure to get things done right. Attempting reshoots with actual military personnel could be difficult, as the Navy may not always be willing to give production another shot. Having numerous angles and opportunities meant that the need for reshoots after the fact could decrease.
There is also an issue of artistic license. Cinematography is far from a perfect science, so having to organize the right shot in post-production is fairly common. The majority of Top Gun: Maverick‘s scenes are made with practical effects, rather than CGI, so it was difficult to rely on only a few camera shots while leaning on CGI to touch-up issues later. With 27 cameras, Hamilton had a wide array of footage to choose from, giving him the pick of the litter. While there were some places where CGI was included, like the dog fights, the footage itself captured real planes, which meant real stakes for Hamilton.
What’s Next For Top Gun?
After grossing $1.49 billion worldwide, Top Gun: Maverick proved the continued viability of the franchise. Since it left an opening for the series to focus on characters like Rooster, Hangman, and Penny alongside Maverick, there is room for a potential sequel, and production isn’t ruling it out. Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski is already hinting at Top Gun 3. With Cruise still regularly taking part in massive action movies like the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, it doesn’t seem like Cruise is done with stunt-heavy movies either. While there hasn’t been word on when a sequel for Top Gun: Maverick will hit theaters, it is growing increasingly likely that one will eventually.