‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Director Shot 800 Hours of Footage: ‘As Much as Three ‘Lord of the Rings’ Movies’

“Top Gun: Maverick” director Joseph Kosinski told Empire magazine that he shot approximately 800 hours of footage for the long-in-the-works Tom Cruise action sequel. The filmmaker put that number into perspective by saying the sequel “shot as much footage as the three ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies combined.” Kosinski reunited with his “Oblivion” star Cruise for “Top Gun: Maverick,” which takes place over 30 years after Tony Scott’s 1986 classic.

“Out of a 12 or 14-hour day, you might get 30 seconds of good footage,” Kosinski said about why so much footage was shot. “But it was so hard-earned. It just took a very long time to get it all. Months and months of aerial shooting. We shot as much footage as the three ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies combined. I think it was 800 hours of footage.”

The aerial sequences weren’t the only reason for so much footage. In order to shoot scenes set inside the cockpits, Kosinski and the filmmaking team had to teach the actors how to use the equipment themselves since the space is far too small to fit a crew.

“We had to teach the actors about lighting, about cinematography, about editing,” Cruise told Empire. “I had to teach them how to turn the cameras on and off, and about camera angles and lenses. We didn’t have unlimited time in these jets. If they were going up for 20-30 minutes, I had to make sure that we got what we needed.”

Cruise reprises his role of test pilot Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who is now put in charge of training a group of younger Top Gun graduates played by the likes of Miles Teller, Glen Powell and more. Teller stars as Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, a pilot trainee who is the son of Maverick’s late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. Also starring in the film are Jennifer Connolly, Jon Hamm, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris and Val Kilmer, the latter of whom reprises his role of Tom “Iceman” Kazansky from the original movie.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is set to world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where Cruise will be in attendance. Paramount Pictures is opening the action movie in U.S. theaters on May 27.

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