Everything seemed to be full speed ahead for “Top Gun: Maverick” to keep its Nov. 19, 2021, release date, but Tom Cruise and Paramount have decided that the current spike in coronavirus cases around the world make that release too risky and have rescheduled the theatrical release for May 27, 2022.
That’s almost a full two years after the studio’s planned June 26, 2020, release. There had even been talk of a 2019 release, but filming on the sequel didn’t wrap until May or June 2019.
The new release date has created fallout for Cruise’s other big movie. The as-yet-untitled “Mission: Impossible 7” movie was scheduled for that May 27 date and now has been bumped to Sept. 30, 2022. What this means for the “Mission: Impossible 8” sequel (shot back to back with #7) is yet to be announced.
This is the exact opposite strategy adopted by MGM for the latest James Bond movie “No Time to Die.” The 007 sequel is set to open here in the United States on Oct. 8 and, pandemic be damned, the theater-only release will proceed as planned.
With the current uncertainty about mask mandates and vaccine requirements in public spaces around the world, “No Time to Die” is making a calculated bet. No movie released since Christmas 2019 has met box-office expectations. Marvel’s taking a shot with a theater-only release of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” on Sept. 3, 2021, but it’s a film that’s introducing a new character to their cinematic universe and it will be hard to judge its relative success or failure.
Cruise has been a very public advocate for pandemic safety, so this decision isn’t really a surprise. Paramount actually showed the first 13 minutes of “Top Gun: Maverick” to distributors and theater owners at the CinemaCon event in Las Vegas last week.
Early word was positive. Secondhand intel reveals that “Maverick” opens with Maverick putting on his Ray-Bans and leather jacket before heading out on a motorcycle ride. There’s some big news: Iceman is now Adm. Kazansky, and he assigns Capt. Mitchell to an elite training fighter training program as a favor, proving that Maverick still can be his wingman anytime.
The rest will remain a mystery until next year. Condolences to all the active-duty Navy folks who will be fully vaccinated by that now-delayed November date. You’re going to have to wait along with the rest of us. Once again, civilians are asking you to make sacrifices to defend their freedoms.