Paramount Pictures executives were reported to have scrapped plans for Top Gun 2, shortly after director Tony Scott committed suicide last year. The filmmaker was actively involved in development on a sequel to the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster, even going so far as to personally research the changes in U.S. Air Force procedures over the past 25-30 years. Scott wanted the film to examine the difference in mindset between old-school pilots (like Maverick) and the digital-technology specialists who operate unmanned drones in the present-day.
Cruise had made plans to headline Top Gun 2 before he set to work on Mission: Impossible 5; the former project even had a script coming together, courtesy of screenwriter Peter Craig (The Town). Those plans were abandoned a few months after Scott's death, leaving many to wonder if Top Gun could become the rare 1980s cultural touchstone to not be resurrected three decades later (for better... or for worse).
Top Gun producer Jerry Bruckheimer spoke with reporters and journalists at the 2013 Produced By conference, where he offered the following encouraging - or, depending on your feelings, discouraging - words about a second trip in the air with Maverick (via Deadline):
“For 30 years we’ve been trying to make a sequel and we’re not going to stop. We still want to do it with Tom [Cruise] and Paramount are still interested in making it."
The current sequel atop Bruckheimer's to-do list is Pirates of the Caribbean 5, which Disney has scheduled for Summer 2015; meanwhile, projects like a sequel to The Lone Ranger - which opens in theaters during next month's Fourth of July frame - could end up becoming a priority for the producer in the near future. Nonetheless, Bruckheimer is refusing to shut the door on Top Gun 2, as he insists that "as long as [Cruise] keeps his enthusiasm hopefully we'll get it made."
The last two Tom Cruise vehicles (Jack Reacher and Oblivion) were respectable creative achievements, yet neither one managed to scale anywhere near the box office heights reached by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol; the latter was also an artistic triumph, thanks to the do-daring direction by Brad Bird.
Indeed, Mission: Impossible's enduring popularity gives all of the concerned parties additional incentive to consider turning the one-shot Top Gun property into a franchise - but, at the same time, we have to ask: is there really that much pent-up demand for the sequel, now that 27 years have passed?
Bruckheimer, in the meantime, in taking a wait-and-see stance towards a prospective Lone Ranger sequel:
“It’s always up to the audience. If the audience likes the movie then Disney will come to me and we’ll make another or it will be a one-off."
Lone Ranger became notorious during early development - thanks to script elements like
werewolves supernatural coyotes - and the film's budget may have climbed from $215 million to $250 million during production, as a result of director Gore Verbinski's insistence on using historically-accurate locomotives for the Johnny Depp western (among other things).
The Lone Ranger trailers suggest that money may've been well-spent (in terms of impressive spectacle). However, that doesn't guarantee that audiences will flock to see this movie the way they did ten years ago - back when Depp, Verbinski and Bruckheimer turned Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean amusement park ride into a crowd-pleasing Hollywood swashbuckler with global appeal.
One potential obstacle could be the over-saturated blockbuster market, as Bruckheimer pointed out:
“It’s very hard this summer. This summer everyone is cannibalizing the audience. You have to hold your seats, it’s not the number of theaters but the number of seats. [Man Of Steel] is coming out this week and then next week another blockbuster will come out, if there is another blockbuster, and Superman will move to small theaters and someone else will get their seats."
Lone Ranger opens in theaters a week before Pacific Rim - which is very much a dark horse contender to become this year's Big Summer Blockbuster Success story - and that could impact Disney's blockbuster. The latter project is the handiwork of director Guillermo del Toro - and has cultural roots in Japanese monster and robot science-fiction - meaning, it might not be so accessible as, say, a Disney western featuring big set pieces and yet another quirky Johnny Depp performance.
Then again, as Bruckheimer points out, Lone Ranger could benefit from the competition being strong, especially since "[when that happens] it increases the audience’s appetite for watching movies." So, as the man said, it's best to just wait and find out if this costly "gamble" pays off, before we start looking ahead to a possible sequel or two (or more, in the case of the Pirates franchise).
The Lone Ranger gallops into U.S. theaters on July 3rd, 2013.
We'll keep you posted on the situation with Top Gun 2 as new information comes our way.