Paramount Hated Top Gun’s Most Iconic Scene

Top Gun was not the most subtle 1980s film, and one of the least subtle scenes in the film was hated by Paramount executives. It nearly led to the director being fired.

By James Brizuela | Published

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Top Gun: Maverick is currently tearing up the box office numbers. Quite honestly, it is one of the best sequels that has even been made. However, its predecessor holds an iconic scene that nearly resulted in the Paramount brass firing director Tony Scott. That scene in question was the volleyball match that saw the Top Gun pilots glistening in the sun while tossing a volleyball around at the beach. Considering that Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer were both in their 20s, it was a smart move, but it nearly cost Scott his job.

Top Gun is easily the most unsubtle movie from the 1980s. The fact that “Take my Breath Away” and “Danger Zone” are peppered throughout the movie on repeat was enough to make audiences realize the film was about the showmanship of the pilots and not so much to deal with the most intricate of plots. That was further reiterated by the fact that the film just randomly has a volleyball match in it. Apparently, Tony Scott spent an entire day filming that scene, and it made the studio executives irate. According to an editor named Billy Weber, “The studio was so pissed off. The head of production, Charlie McGuire, he said, ‘I’m gonna fire him’ … because he spent a whole day shooting this scene.” It would have been tragic to see Scott lose his job over such a trivial matter, and it did work out in the end. The volleyball scene became one of the most iconic in cinema history.

There are spoilers ahead for Top Gun: Maverick, so look away if you have not seen the film. Arguably one of the biggest callbacks to the original Top Gun in the sequel is another instance where the pilots are playing football with one another. Shirts off again, but this time it is a much older version of Cruise. Not to be mean, but his days of showing off his greased-up body might be behind him. In the original film, the volleyball scene was random and made little to no sense plot-wise, except to drive home the competitive nature of Maverick/Goose vs. Iceman/Slider. However, in the sequel, Maverick uses the football game to beat rapport and create a team. At least plot-wise, it made sense.

As previously mentioned, Top Gun: Maverick is currently one of the most popular movies out right now. The Rotten Tomatoes score for the film still sits at 97% critic and 99% audience ratings. That is impressive, considering the original film came out over 30 years ago. Tom Cruise was given an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes for his performance in the film, and the sequel is now the highest-grossing domestic film for the actor.

Top Gun came out in 1986 when cheesy 80s films were at their peak. Though Tony Scott spent a whole day filming the volleyball scene, it paid off dividends. Even in the 1980s, the film achieved massive success with over $367 million in box office numbers. Quite honestly, without the volleyball scene, those numbers might not be the same. Scott is the one who got the last laugh on Paramount.