‘Top Gun: Maverick’ shot as much footage as the entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy

Tom Cruise Top Gun Maverick
Image via Paramount Pictures

Top Gun: Maverick is one of the most-anticipated movies on the horizon, continuing the story of the original 1986 movie after nearly four decades. It goes without saying that expectations are high for Joseph Kosinski’s sequel, but according to the director, the original film’s legacy has dogged the crew’s footsteps from the get-go, with Maverick now boasting nearly as many hours of footage as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy combined. Kosinski told Empire in a new interview,

“Out of a 12 or 14-hour day, you might get 30 seconds of good footage. 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 high bar set by Top Gun is admittedly difficult to live up to, but even still, 800 hours of footage for a single two-and-a-half-hour film is insane. To follow that comparison, the extended versions of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings come up to about 11 hours and 20 minutes in total.

As for the man behind the titular Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, Tom Cruise revealed that they had to teach actors everything from camera work to lighting and editing, because they didn’t have unlimited time in the cockpits as the jets flew off for every take.

“We had to teach the actors about lighting, about cinematography, about editing. 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.”

Top Gun: Maverick is flying into theaters on May 27, so we’ll be able to determine if these efforts have been worthwhile soon enough.