The long-awaited sequel to the iconic 1986 Tom Cruise action movie “Top Gun” debuted over Memorial Day weekend and blasted away all competitors on the way to a titanic box office take but the film’s patriotic themes chased off a squeamish Chinese investor that feared that China’s communist government wouldn’t be pleased with the final product.
Chinese firm Tencent Holdings Ltd. which signed onto the financing for “Top Gun: Maverick” reportedly “quietly backed away” from the $170 million Paramount Pictures production despite the certainty that the movie would be a smash hit rather than risk incurring the wrath of Beijing over the pro-America, pro-military messaging which is a rarity in the current era of “woke” Hollywood.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Tencent executives backed out of the $170 million Paramount Pictures production after they grew concerned that Communist Party officials in Beijing would be angry about the company’s affiliation with a movie celebrating the American military, according to people familiar with the matter.”
“Association with a pro-American story grew radioactive as relations between the U.S. and China devolved, the people added. The about-face turned ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ from a movie that once symbolized deepening ties between China and Hollywood into a fresh example of the broader tensions forming between the U.S. and China,” the paper reported. “Tencent initially put up millions of dollars for a 12.5% stake in the film before dropping out, according to people familiar with the financing.”
“In late 2019, when Tencent quietly backed away from the film, companies operating in China were under pressure to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party as part of President Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on his country’s businesses. At a July 2019 ceremony announcing its co-financing of ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ Tencent also trumpeted a coming lineup of propagandistic domestic films extolling the history and heroism of the Chinese Communist Party,” the WSJ reported.
The communists in Beijing weren’t likely pleased when the patch of Taiwan’s flag that was on the back of Cruise’s character’s flight jacket had been added back on after it was scrubbed in early promotional photos, generating an uproar from those who correctly saw it as Hollywood’s bending of the knee to the totalitarian dictatorship so as to not lose access to the 1.2 billion consumer market.
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
When the sequel made its Taiwanese debut, the patches were once again there.
Taiwan 🇹🇼 flag spotted in #TopGunMaverick, premiers in Taiwan today https://t.co/hFzOE6q91U pic.twitter.com/SkVxugE4rk
— Taiwan News (@TaiwanNews886) May 25, 2022
In the sequel, Cruise reprises his role as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, no longer the reckless young hotshot of the original but an experienced aviator called back to the Top Gun flight school to train pilots for a dangerous secret mission.
The film also stars Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm and Val Kilmer who returns as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. “Top Gun: Maverick” is directed by Joseph Kosinski.
Few movies better defined an era than the 1986 original, a turbocharged patriotic masterpiece chock full of great action scenes, fine acting, a great plot and a hit soundtrack. In addition to Cruise and Kilmer, “Top Gun” starred Kelly McGillis, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside and Anthony Edwards as the ill-fated “Goose,” a character whose son is featured in the sequel.
Paramount Pictures has projected that “Top Gun: Maverick” will bring in $151 million over the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend and from early indications, could shatter box office records.
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