Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun’ jacket shows how key China is to film industry

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Tom Cruise on the set of “Top Gun.”

Paramount Pictures | Sunset Boulevard | Corbis | Getty Images

On Thursday, Paramount debuted the first trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to the much beloved ’80s classic “Top Gun,” at San Diego Comic-Con. By Friday, eagle-eyed fans had spotted one big difference between the iconic leather jacket Tom Cruise wears in the first film and the one he dons in new trailer.

In the new trailer the patches on the back of the jacket no longer bear the Taiwanese and Japanese flags.

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Paramount Pictures did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

A possible reason is that “Top Gun: Maverick” is being produced, in part, by Tencent Pictures, a Chinese film distributor and production company. Tencent has co-financed films like “Wonder Woman,” “Kong: Skull Island” and “Bumbleebee.”

“No matter the film or subject matter it’s imperative that filmmakers and studios today understand the global marketplace and how consumers in various international territories around the world will respond or relate to visual cues, storylines or situations in high-profile releases,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said.

China is quickly becoming one of the biggest film markets in the world, with many analysts suggesting that it could overtake the U.S. to become the top film market as early as this year. Last year, China hauled in $8.87 billion at its box office while the U.S. pulled in more than $11 billion.

China is also a huge market for American-made films. “Avengers: Endgame” made more than $614 million of its $2.7 billion haul from the country and “Fate of the Furious” made $392 million of its $1.2 billion run from China.

While some have speculated that the missing flags on the patch are due to Paramount placating its Chinese business partner, others suggest that the difference is due to storytelling. The original patch is from Maverick’s father’s Vietnam tour. The new patch appears to say “85-86” with the words “Indian Ocean Cruise,” which was where the dogfights in the original “Top Gun” took place.

Perhaps, it is a bit of both.

“The attention to detail paid by film fans and movie buffs to even the most minute detail in a movie trailer would qualify them for flight school,” Dergarabedian said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. “Fate of the Furious” is an Universal Studios production.





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