MT. PLEASANT—A line of cars trying to get into the Basin Drive-in to watch “Top Gun- Maverick” that extended all the way into town has been noticed as far away as Hollywood.
It’s not unusual to see a few cars lined up around sundown outside the Basin Drive-in at the north end of Mt. Pleasant waiting to get into a movie. But the blockbuster, “Top Gun-Maverick,” created lines stretching well into the city for several nights.
The drive-in has 360 spaces. But on the movie’s opening nights, cars were pushing into every corner of the property, breaking attendance re- cords. And some cars had to be turned away.
Sonja Brown, who recently moved to Spring City, noticed the commotion. Brown knows Jerry Bruckheimer, producer/director of the film, and thought he would enjoy seeing the excitement in far-off rural Utah. Using her cell phone, she shot video and sent it to Bruckheimer and his wife, Linda.
Brown said Bruckheimer, who directed the original “Top Gun” more than 30 years ago, as well as other blockbusters such as “Flashdance,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” is probably experiencing the greatest success in his career this year.
He was so grateful to Sanpete County fans that he granted Brown, who is a media professional in her own right, a personal interview which she has made available to the Messenger.
Bruckheimer said that for many people, “This is the first movie they’ve seen in more than two years.” He believes the fans of the original Top Gun, released in May of 1986, came out first. As a result, the initial audience was a little older than usual.
But now, the filmmaker believes the audience has migrated to a younger demographic. “Fathers are taking their sons and daughters. Women are taking their girlfriends. You see it once and then you want to take a friend. It’s become a cultural phenomenon.”
Of the photos, he said, “…It’s always thrilling to see lines like that. It was amazing…It’s certainly a compliment, and we really appreciate the people in Sanpete County supporting the movie.”
Brown asked Bruckheimer, “…I didn’t really expect a happy ending (to the movie). Was that a conscious decision on your part?”
“I always try to make people feel better when they leave the theater than when they walked in,” Bruckheimer replied. “Nobody wants to sit there for two hours and walk out depressed; at least I don’t. I only make movies I want to see, one that makes me think, makes me feel better and gets me involved with the characters.”
Bruckheimer said the most difficult part of the making of the film was the aerial scenes. The actors trained for three months to withstand the G-forces they experienced in the cockpits.
“They were pulling up to 8 Gs, (eight times their own body weight). “Those facial expressions you see are real. They’re not acting.”
“Top Gun-Maverick” has become a world-wide event, with global ticket sales now exceeding U.S. sales, and top- ping $1 billion, according to the “Hollywood Reporter” and other newspapers.
Brown attributes its huge success to several factors. “I think America has been starved for a great movie. Even more, for movies that don’t make parents wince if their children are with them.”
Another factor, Brown says, is that the movie makes people feel patriotic. Bruckheimer agrees. “We appreciate the men and women who are in our armed forces and those who protect our shores,” he said. “That’s why we want to show these pilots the way they really are. So many come from great places like Utah and elsewhere in the country. Their stories deserve to be told.”
The rest of Brown’s interview with Bruckheimer and additional photos can be found on our website at http://www.sanpetemessinger.com.