Brief History is a column that tells you all you need to know about your favorite — and not so favorite — pop culture topics. This entry looks at the impact that COVID-19 has had on new Tom Cruise movies, specifically Mission: Impossible 7 and Top Gun: Maverick.
The universe clearly does not want Tom Cruise to release another movie. While there are of course many global catastrophes at the moment, one small impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the actor’s filmography. From the cause for his viral rant during the making of Mission: Impossible 7 to the delayed releases of that film and Top Gun: Maverick, the coronavirus has not been kind to Cruise’s recent productions.
Here’s a brief history of the situation to get you up to speed:
The Many Delays of Top Gun: Maverick
Believe it or not, it’s been over two years since the first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick made its debut. The Top Gun sequel was originally going to hit theaters in June 2020. But the Tom Cruise vehicle was one of many movies delayed after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, it was pushed from June to Christmas 2020, then to July 2021, due in part to “scheduling conflicts” for Cruise. Paramount Pictures eventually settled on a release date of November 19th of this year. But then the date changed once again — and hopefully for the last time — to Memorial Day Weekend 2022. What a ride.
Concerns about the delta variant of the coronavirus and low box office numbers for a number of blockbusters fueled the decision. Fans, understandably, are growing impatient.
When Top Gun: Maverick finally gets released pic.twitter.com/ti8mdRcJsx
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) September 1, 2021
But at least co-star Miles Teller seems excited.
We showed the first 13 minutes of Top Gun: Maverick today at Cinemacon pic.twitter.com/xAilmi9hDK
— Miles Teller (@Miles_Teller) August 26, 2021
Speaking of Teller, he was recently the subject of a news report claiming he refused to be vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 while shooting Paramount’s The Offer, and caused that production to have to shut down. According to Just Jared, Teller’s reps claim the story is not accurate but didn’t share which part was untrue. Either way, Cruise would not be happy if he’d been part of that shoot. Read on to find out why…
The Rant Heard ‘Round the World
On December 16, 2020, the British tabloid The Sun published leaked audio of Tom Cruise berating the crew of Mission: Impossible 7 for failing to follow Covid-19 protocols on set. According to one source, Cruise, who is also one of the film’s producers, had become something of a coronavirus czar. The incident that prompted the audio was a group of people standing maskless and not adhering to proper social distancing.
Here’s part of what Cruise said:
“If I see you do it again, you’re f***ing gone. And if anyone in this crew does it, that’s it — and you, too, and you, too. And you, don’t you ever f***ing do it again…That’s it. No apologies. You can tell it to the people that are losing their f***ing homes because our industry is shut down.”
While the impetus for the rant seems like a fair one, the harshness resulted in a mixed response. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times later that month, George Clooney says he understood why Cruise responded the way he did. But he would have handled the situation differently. He explains:
“You’re in a position of power, and it’s tricky, right? You do have a responsibility for everybody else, and he’s absolutely right about that. And, you know, if the production goes down, a lot of people lose their jobs. People have to understand that and have to be responsible. It’s just not my style to, you know, take everybody to task that way.”
Earlier this year, Cruise defended the rant in an interview with Empire magazine:
“All those emotions were going through my mind. I was thinking about the people I work with, and my industry. And for the whole crew to know that we’d started rolling on a movie was just a huge relief. It was very emotional, I gotta tell you.”
The Impossible Mission of Releasing Mission: Impossible 7
After everything Cruise did to get the thing made safely, Mission: Impossible 7 is still not out of the woods yet. In 2019, Paramount announced July 23, 2021, as the release date for the seventh installment of the franchise and August 5, 2022, as the release date for an eighth movie. Obviously, those dates fell through.
First, the next sequel was set to open in November of this year. And the eighth installment would then hit theaters one year later. In April, Paramount pushed the release date of Mission: Impossible 7 again, to May 2022. Then, last week, Paramount broke our hearts one more time and announced a new release date: September 30, 2022. Cue the world’s smallest violin.
Not much is known about the franchise’s seventh film. Though it has been reported that in Mission: Impossible 7, Cruise, who plays Ethan Hunt, completes his “most dangerous stunt” of the series.
Earlier this year, as part of FSR’s Back to the Movies essay series, Aurora Amidon wrote about how the sequel’s release will remind us of the importance of moviegoing and the theater experience. Stunts, she writes, show the actor’s commitment to the art of cinema, a willingness to do almost anything for the sake of their craft.
After so many months of having the future of moviegoing seeming to be in doubt, seeing another Mission: Impossible on the big screen will remind us that that’s where movies are meant to be. Amidon writes:
“There are still people out there like Tom Cruise, who will do whatever it takes to preserve exactly what we love about cinema. And he’s not going anywhere, no matter how many bones he breaks in the process.”
Here’s hoping the latest release dates for both movies remain set in stone.