The air was warm. Covid regulations were dwindling. People were travelling and basking in the summer. Life was good. I hadn’t planned on rushing to the theatre to see it until I got home from Greece, but everyone was talking about Top Gun Maverick, Top Gun’s long-awaited sequel. I was visiting family at the time, and we needed something to do. So, of course, one of their favourite things to do in the summer was to visit the open-air cinema. Located in Athens city centre’s biggest park, the place had one screen and was relatively cheap. The cinema was bustling with people grabbing drinks, smoking cigarettes, and chatting loudly. All had the same idea – leave the house/pandemic prison to see a good movie with other humans.
The audience had diverse demographics: older veterans (Greece has conscription) reminiscing about their glory days; parents who remembered the original Top Gun in the 80s; and a new generation whose crushes include Tom Cruise and Miles Teller. A quick glance on a Mediterranean evening showed the film attracted people who had little to nothing in common with each other and brought them together to see a fun movie with an intriguing storyline.
Top Gun Maverick’s popularity was a combination of all of the perfect ingredients – a good storyline, a strong audience, and a well-timed release date.
It’s a movie that deserves to be seen on a large screen with surround sound in cinemas. The theatre audience leaves with a thrill, an adrenaline high not attainable with pushing a button on a television remote control.
The pandemic fueled the push to put all films onto streaming services. With everyone locked down, the only way to get any revenue back into creators’ pockets was to push films onto a service that charged €12 monthly, equivalent to one average matinee showtime. Little did they know the damage they would do.
The film industry cannot sustain itself only on streaming. It’s a delicate system that even concessionaires are affected by. Movie budgets now often reach hundreds of millions of dollars. Although it’s great publicity for it to be available on a streaming service, it’s doing more harm than good as the movie creators can’t make enough money to recoup their investment.
While the industry has changed, audiences have not. Movie-goers want a good story first and foremost, and to bask in the glow of a great story, well told.
Hollywood can choose to see the remarkable success of Top Gun: Maverick as inspiration, or ignore it entirely.
While both streaming services and the movie-going experience have their pros and cons, it’s essential to consider the long-term effects of this blockbuster success. Top Gun: Maverick was able to restart a movement to bring people back into theatres, and its success helps prove that the magic of the movies is still alive.