Six years ago it looked like Tom Cruise’s career was on the downturn. A few PR missteps and the underperformance of Mission: Impossible 3 at the US box office ($135 million) led to his production deal at Paramount Pictures being scrapped - after a very public ticking off from the Viacom’s head honcho Sumner Redstone. The star's seven film, $100 million-plus streak, was foiled when Robert Redford’s political drama Lions For Lambs scored just $15 million, and then Valkyrie and Knight and Day both failed to hit the magic $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Naysayers were spreading the word that Cruise’s twenty-five year reign at the top of the Hollywood food chain had finally come to an end.
Then Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol opened in December and scored a massive $209 million at the US box office, and an amazing $693 million globally – a franchise and career best for Cruise. Suddenly Cruise was hot again-red hot. He’s already got the potential franchise starter One Shot (or maybe it's called Reacher) in the can, as well as sci-fi actioner Oblivion (not to mention the musical Rock of Ages) on the way. Top Gun 2 has been in active development for the last few years, but now it looks like it’s going to leapfrog Mission: Impossible 5 and come to the top of Cruise’s “to do” list.
Paramount’s Head of Production, Adam Goodman spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and stated the sequel to the jetfighter film will likely go into production before the next Ethan Hunt adventure:
“We'll likely make a Top Gun sequel with Tom Cruise first. Jerry Bruckheimer would produce, with Tony Scott returning to direct. All parties are moving ahead. We've hired Peter Craig to write the script.”
After Mission: Impossible 3 there were rumors that Cruise was going to be phased out of the franchise to make way for fresher, younger blood, and the casting of Jeremy Renner in the fourth installment seemed to back-up that point, but the ‘bofo’ box office of Ghost Protocol highlights that audiences will still flock to see Cruise take part in impossible missions.
Ultimately, it’s good that Bruckheimer and Scott are involved in Top Gun 2. Bruckheimer has been riding the wave of franchise films since the first Pirates of the Caribbean set sail in 2003 , while Scott’s last film was the middle-of-the-road Unstoppable. The last time Cruise worked with Bruckheimer and Scott was with 1991’s Days Of Thunder, that film was a critical and commercial disappointment grossing ‘just’ $82 million domestically and $152 million worldwide – a small change when compared to the $176 million that Top Gun grossed (with a further $177 million abroad).
It remains to be seen if Top Gun 2 will recapture the box office success of the 1986 film, but with the trio of Cruise, Scott and Bruckheimer involved it has a good chance of being a hit. Let’s just hope that they give Val Kilmer a call.