Study Guide

Top Gun Production Studio

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Production Studio

Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer

Dynamic duo alert. And no, we're not talking about Maverick and Goose.

Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer produced this top movie in conjunction with Paramount Pictures. While Paramount got the rights to the original magazine article from 1983 (Ehud Yonay's "Top Guns") that inspired the film and handled distribution, the real nod goes to Bruckheimer and Simpson.

Two of a Kind

Who are they? Oh, just two dudes behind some of the biggest, most explosive action films ever made. Before Simpson's death in 1996, Bruckheimer and Simpson worked together on Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Days of Thunder (1990), Crimson Tide (1995), Bad Boys (1995), and The Rock (1996).

The success of Simpson and Bruckheimer's partnership earned them Producer of the Year awards in both 1985 and 1988 (given by the National Association of Theater Owners). While still a team, Simpson and Bruckheimer were also honored with: 15 academy award nominations (2 wins), 4 Grammys, 3 Golden Globes, and 2 People's Choice Awards.

After Simpson's death, Bruckheimer continued to produce blockbuster after blockbuster. The short list of his credits in the action-adventure category is stunning:

  • Con Air (1997) 
  • Armageddon (1998)
  • Gone in Sixty Seconds (2001)
  • Pearl Harbor (2001)
  • Black Hawk Down (2001)
  • Bad Boys II (2003)
  • and National Treasure (2004)

While Bruckheimer and Simpson made other kinds movies, like 1995's Dangerous Minds, and while Bruckheimer has made a veritable killing in the television arena (his production company is behind all of the different C.S.I. shows, Cold Case, Without a Trace, and The Amazing Race), the duo are best known for action-packed, "high-concept high-octane" films like those mentioned above.

Simpson and Bruckheimer were responsible for the look, speed, and overall feel of Top Gun, but they were also responsible for a lot of important behind-the-scenes work. It was these two hungry producers who aggressively courted Tom Cruise. They knew they wanted him (and the writers had him in mind the whole time they were working on the screenplay) and they knew that to get him they were going to have to get creative. For some reason, Cruise repeatedly refused to commit.

So what did they do? They got the Navy involved with the film (a big help) and invited Cruise to El Centro, CA to go for a ride with the Blue Angels. Cruise, who had been waffling, immediately agreed to do the film after his jet ride.

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