“Top Gun” Is the Latest Action Franchise to Get a Reality Show

Entering the company of James Bond and "Star Wars"

October 16, 2023 2:19 pm
Fighter jets at a "Top Gun: Maverick" event
A view of the jets at the "Top Gun: Maverick" world premiere in San Diego.
Emma McIntyre/WireImage

We live in an era where it often isn’t enough for a movie or television show to be its own thing. “Can the IP be expanded?,” a voice somewhere asks. And the answer is almost always, “Sure!” It’s why we’re seeing a number of John Wick spin-offs, troubling casting choices and all, and why franchises like Star Wars and the Marvel and DC cinematic universes have made multiple forays into television.

An in-continuity television series isn’t the only option available to producers looking to expand their empires, though. It’s why Brian Cox is hosting a James Bond-themed reality show and why Ahmed Best did something similar on a Star Wars-themed show for younger viewers. And now, it seems that Top Gun is getting a similar treatment.

James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter revealed the news. The project has the working title of Top Gun: The Next Generation, and it will follow a group of actual Navy pilots as they make their way through training. The project is set to air on NatGeo, with a release date to be announced.

“With so many millions of fans of the film around the world, I was immediately drawn to this series,” said Tom McDonald, the company’s executive vice president for Global Factual and Unscripted Content. “These elite jet pilots are not only extremely accomplished and impressive but all have very different stories to tell.”

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On one level, this makes sense. One of the reasons Top Gun: Maverick worked as well as it did is because it’s a sequel that feels both earned and unexpected. To suddenly begin cranking out several more sequels or spin-offs could lead to diminishing returns — even if a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead-esque retelling of Maverick from the perspective of Manny Jacinto’s little-seen supporting character could be essential viewing.

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