‘Top Gun: Maverick’ lands in Telluride | Culture & Leisure

Telluride feels the need, the need for speed, and the seeming need to see “Top Gun: Maverick.” If you’ve walked past the Nugget Theater around 7 p.m. recently, you’ll have seen a line of moviegoers eager to see “Top Gun: Maverick.” The sequel starring Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell received rave reviews from critics and audiences and was a box canyon hit.

“It was the first time since I took over operations that we sold out a non-festival related event,” said Jameson Ritter, the Nugget’s manager.

According to Ritter, the theater, which seats 165 people, sold out four nights in a row from June 21-25.

With summer blockbuster season upon us, people are excited to get back into theater. The Nugget was purchased by the Telluride Film Festival last summer and reopened in November 2021, after being closed for over a year throughout the pandemic. Ritter explained that ticket sales spiked in February during peak ski season and rose again.

“‘Top Gun’ checks a lot of those boxes of what makes a theatrical experience truly exciting. It ticked all the boxes for those who were nostalgic and remembered the theatrical experience of the original. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ also had that amusement park, thrill ride element of a loud, brash, modern big show of a movie,” Ritter said.

Tom and Nancy Cooper were in line to see “Top Gun: Maverick” Tuesday night at the Nugget. Nancy had seen the film the previous week and was now back with husband Tom who had yet to see the 2022 film.

“You have to see it in theaters,” Nancy said.

The Coopers remember going to the theater in 1986 for the first “Top Gun” and being blown away by the sound effects.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing who will replace Kelly McGillis,” added Tom.

In 1986, McGillis played Maverick’s love interest. In 2022, Maverick’s love interest is Penny Benjamin, portrayed by Jennifer Connelly. Although Connelly is not in the original film, his character’s name is briefly referenced in a scene where Maverick and Goose are scolded. Their superior mentions the Admiral’s daughter, to which Goose then whispers to Maverick, “Penny Benjamin”.

A new generation of pilots enters the fray in “Top Gun: Maverick,” including “Rooster” (Miles Teller), who is the son of Maverick’s best friend, Goose.

For The Nugget’s Tuesday Night nanager Cindy Wyszynski, the easter eggs and the connections between old and new are part of what makes the new film so enjoyable.

“It’s a fun action movie. There’s not much to think about. It’s easy on the brain, easy on the eyes, and it’s reminiscent of that great ’80s era,” Wyszynski said. , who was 16 when she saw the original. in theatres.

Wyszynski has worked with the Nugget for more than a decade and said “Top Gun: Maverick” was the first time she’s seen the Nugget sell out since Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti western “The Hateful Eight” was released in 2015. The Telluride area, specifically Wilson Mesa, served as the backdrop in the film.

In “Top Gun: Maverick,” Cruise insisted the scenes were shot in real F-18 fighter jets. In 1986, shots of the jets were included, but the actors were mostly filmed in a simulator. With new technology, seeing the movie on the big screen makes all the difference. Audiences can almost feel the g-forces pushing against them as Maverick flies through the canyon. The film manages to immerse and include the audience in the action in a way that would be impossible with CGI effects alone.

At a recent sold-out screening, everyone was on the edge of their seat, including high school kids, young adults, and those who remember the hype of the original version. According to Ritter, this camaraderie and shared excitement makes the theatrical experience far more rewarding than streaming.

“People who went to one of the sold-out shows fed off the energy and excitement of those around them. And at the Nugget, we’re also really lucky to have a sound system of world class thanks to the Telluride Film Festival,” said Ritter.

“Top Gun: Maverick” will play throughout the 4th of July weekend, which is fitting because Saturday’s parade on Main Street will feature an F-16 flyover. As for the future of the Nugget, business must remain “business as usual”. Renovations are planned in the future, but Ritter explained that the changes likely won’t happen until after the 2023 Telluride Film Festival.

Although the Nugget is a small theater, it is a valuable part of the community, one that Ritter does not take for granted.

“I think the importance of having a theater like the Nugget, especially in a community that is engaged and supportive of events and activities, is that it’s able to provide an affordable evening, an affordable platform to engage in exciting art,” Ritter said. “Few cities this size have a resource like this, and we want to take pride in bringing impactful storytelling to this community.”


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