The Cannes Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday as Tom Cruise and his literal (flyby?) into overdrive. Top Gun: Maverick The team landed at the Palais for a high-octane premiere, with eight fighter jets zooming over the event emitting smoke in red and blue to match the colors of the French flag.
The actor was already destined to be the biggest attraction of Cannes 2022 long before he reached the Croisette, where he appeared Top Gun: Maverick will be promoted by Paramount with splashy advertising ahead of its May 25 global launch. But even by the festival’s standards, Cruise received the kind of enthusiastic reception that only one of Hollywood’s most successful and well-known stars in the world deserves. And after the final image hit screens at around 10 p.m., the audience responded with a six-minute standing ovation that brought Cruise to tears and ended an epic day.
After attending a career retrospective earlier in the day — a “MasterClass Conversation” with French journalist Didier Allouch at the 1,000-seat Debussy Theater — Cruise received another pre-screening tribute, presented by Thierry Fremaux, director of the Canned Festival, held in honor of his long career at the center of international pop culture. Fremaux provided comments (in French) and presented a 13-minute roll of clips presenting each entry of his filmography.
Cruise gave Fremaux a hug (who encouraged the audience to put down their phones and put their hands together) before taking the microphone to exchange remarks, urging all filmmakers in attendance to stand up and be acknowledged, and calling out to his close associates at Paramount. “They’ve all worked so hard to bring this to the big screen and it’s a dream to be here,” Cruise said. “I will never forget this evening.”
Elle Fanning might not, either. The actress, a L’Oreal ambassador and frequent Cannes visitor, sat at the Palais and received a special greeting from Cruise. He recalled meeting her while working on the 2005 blockbuster with her sister Dakota war of the Worlds.
He then turned his attention back to festivals and his love of cinema. “Thank you for this time,” he said. “I make these films for all of you.” Fremaux then offered a special surprise, announcing that the festival would award Cruise a Palme d’Or. Cruise looked stunned and accepted with a “Wow” as the audience rose for another standing ovation, one of the few times in recent memory that an actor has received multiple standing ovations before the first frame of a film hits the screen.
But before all of that happened, Cruise arrived at the Cannes red carpet just before 7pm and spent a healthy 10 minutes cruising up and down the street to greet fans, some of whom spent hours under the blazing Côte d’Sun Azur waited for the movie star to show up. He made them worth it by signing autographs, signing DVDs and posing for selfies.
As seen on the Palais’s big screen, he had to be pulled out of the crowd of admirers in order to push his way in front of the crowd of photographers and pose alongside his director Joseph Kosinski and blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer. They were accompanied by colleagues Top Gun: Maverick Stars Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm (who adjusted Cruise’s bow tie on the carpet), Glen Powell, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis, Lewis Pullman and others.
Top Gun: Maverick has received rave reviews from critics since it made its world premiere earlier this month in San Diego aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Midway.
“Your delight in Top Gun: Maverick might depend on how willing you are to shut out the real world and indulge in the magic of the movie stars,” he wrote THR Lead film critic David Rooney. “Which this superb sequel – staged with virtuoso technical skill, driving pacing and breathtaking flight sequences by Joseph Kosinski – has in abundance.”