Americans will just have to wait an extra six months before they can watch Tom Cruise jet across the skies in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to the 1986 hit movie that transformed the actor into a movie star.
“Paramount is pushing back the release of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ from late June to Christmas 2020 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic,” reports The Hollywood Reporter (THR). “The tentpole is the latest Hollywood event pic to move out of summer, underscoring the far-reaching impact of the virus.”
The sequel to the 34-year-old Reagan-era smash hit will not be hitting theaters until December 23. Paramount made the decision to give Tom Cruise more leeway to shoot “Mission Impossible 7” before doing the “Top Gun” marketing blitz. The latest “Mission Impossible” installment had to halt filming in Venice, Italy, as the COVID-19 pandemic surged across Europe and the United States.
Movie theaters and entertainment venues across the nation have been temporarily shut down as “non-essential” businesses. Though theater owners predict they could reopen in June, they do not know when business will get back to normal.
“Top Gun: Maverick” became the subject of controversy last year when critics noted that the trailer showed signs the movie would be pandering to China by removing the Taiwanese and Japanese flag from Tom Cruise’s signature movie jacket.
There’s a new Top Gun movie coming out. And Maverick is wearing the same leather jacket – only this time it’s Communist Party of China-approved, so the Japanese and Taiwanese flag patches are gone (screenshot on right is from the new trailer)… pic.twitter.com/gUxFNFNUKX
— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) July 19, 2019
Further adding to the suspicions about “Top Gun: Maverick” is the fact that Tencent Pictures, owned by the Chinese company Tencent, is “a co-financier of the new Top Gun movie,” according to THR. Skydance, which is co-producing the film with Paramount, is also partly owned by Tencent.
The controversy became so heated that both Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) said it was disappointing to see Hollywood cater to China so blatantly.
“Hollywood is afraid to stand up for free speech,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told The Washington Free Beacon. “‘Top Gun’ is an American classic, and it’s incredibly disappointing to see Hollywood elites appease the Chinese Communist Party. The Party uses China’s economy to silence dissent against its brutal repression and to erode the sovereignty of American allies like Taiwan. Hollywood is afraid to stand up for free speech and is enabling the Party’s campaign against Taiwan.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the censorship of “Top Gun: Maverick” just downright “sucks.”
“That’s the power of Chinese money in the modern world that kind of sucks,” Graham said in an interview with TMZ. “I hate to see the flag removed because of Chinese financing. It’s nothing the government can do, but I think it sucks.”
Movie studios have gone to great lengths to appeal to Chinese audiences by presenting the country as a technologically advanced superpower, as in the cases of “The Martian,” “2012,” “Gravity,” and “Looper.” Beyond that, some movies have been subjected to self-censorship, sometimes changing whole plotlines in order to break into the Chinese market.
“When the creators of ‘Pixels’ wanted to show aliens blasting a hole in the Great Wall of China, Sony executives worried that the scene might prevent the 2015 movie’s release in China, leaked studio emails show. They blew up the Taj Mahal instead,” reported The New York Times. “In the 2016 movie ‘Doctor Strange,’ the Ancient One is Celtic, played by the white actress Tilda Swinton. Moviemakers decided to change the character’s ethnicity early in the process, reportedly to avoid offending the Chinese government.”