Despite being 26 years old, Top Gun remains a solid fixture in the American (and perhaps even the world’s) cultural subconscious. Its enduring popularity has long made it a viable candidate for a sequel, even decades after the original’s release. Rumors of a Top Gun 2 engaged afterburners earlier this year as screenwriters were actively courted to craft a script for a new Tom Cruise fighter-pilot epic.

Sadly, it appears that hopes for the further adventures of Maverick and Iceman are in vain. Three months after the suicide of Top Gun director Tony Scott, Paramount Pictures has admitted that the sequel will almost certainly not be produced. In its place, the studio has begun planning for the release of the 3-D conversion of the original film in 2013.

In a New York Times article published yesterday, Paramount Pictures’ executives were said to have given up on production of Top Gun 2. The fate of the proposed film became uncertain in August, when Tony Scott suddenly and inexplicably committed suicide in Los Angeles. Since then, any forward momentum on the project has apparently fallen apart. As such, executives do not expect that the movie will ever see completion.

While its sequel will never see the light of day, Top Gun remains a lucrative property for Paramount. Citing other profitable 3-D conversions of films such as Titanic and Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Paramount contracted 3-D conversion firm Legend3D to do the same for Top Gun earlier this year. Apparently, this version is ready to be shown in theaters. However, Paramount has been uncertain as to whether an immediate release would be insensitive to Tony Scott’s memory – perhaps even going so far as seeming predatory in the wake of the well-loved director’s passing.

Nonetheless, Paramount has a new, contemporary audience-friendly version of a beloved film sitting in its hands. Top Gun 3-D will absolutely see a release – and sooner rather than later. The New York Times article mentions that the company is mulling a theatrical run of the film in February of 2013, but has not made any firm plans.

Director Tony Scott with frequent collaborator Denzel Washington.

While Paramount’s caution in the wake of shared tragedy is admirable, it will be wise of them not to dither on Top Gun 3-D‘s release either. Had they released the converted film a week after Tony Scott’s senseless death, it certainly would have come off as a corporation cynically cashing in on tragedy. Now, some months after the fact, public showings of Scott’s most famous film will probably feel more like a tribute to the prolific creator.

In the absence of a sequel that many thought was just around the corner, followers of the original film and of Tony Scott are left with nothing but questions. If anything, allowing Scott’s fans to take part in public showings of Top Gun 3-D could feel something like catharsis. Better sooner than later.

Top Gun 3-D does not yet have a firm release date, but will likely reach theaters in early 2013.

Source: The New York Times (via Collider)