There are fans, then there are the superfans, and there’s the ultimate wingman!
Bubbling with overflowing enthusiasm, members of the second group are often on a whole different spectrum of geekiness, but Singapore resident Christopher Paul has got them all beat. After all, it’s rare enough that one would enjoy repeated screenings of a movie in the cinema, but what of the hyper fan who has watched Top Gun: Maverick an astounding 45 times in 45 days… and counting.
And why not? After all, the trade manager only waited 36 years since the original premiere to catch Tom Cruise take to the skies once again as hotshot pilot Maverick.
That’s a mighty show of dedication and commitment, even for a self-professed cinephile, who back in 2018, attended Golden Village’s Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Movie Marathon that screened 10 movies back-to-back.
“There’s just something about watching movies at the cinema that you can’t replicate at home, and that would be a combination of the entire experience,” the 38-year-old tells Geek Culture in an email interview, citing factors like audience reactions and immersive technology like Dolby Atmos and IMAX.
Before Top Gun: Maverick, which is now Tom Cruise’s highest-grossing film, his personal record went to watching Transformers: Dark of The Moon, Avengers: Endgame, and Spiderman: No Way Home 13 times each. But what is it about the sky-bound, long-awaited sequel that keeps bringing him back to the cinema halls? The magic lies in the concoction of nostalgia, minimal CGI use, amazing soundtracks, and of course, the blood-pumping, high-octane aerial stunts.
“What I love most about the sequel is the fact that they managed to bring the iconic F-14 Tomcat back, in such a meaningful and somewhat realistic storyline,” Christopher Paul shares. “Just seeing that dogfight scene against the SU-57 Felons, and experiencing it in 4DX motion seats, makes me want to keep on going back to the cinema to relive the experience, because I’m not sure when there will ever be another movie that features this iconic and retired Navy fighter jet in the future.”
The sheer love for the movie has even prompted him to also catch it on the silver screen overseas in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, more than 15 times. “I think the sequel is miles ahead of the original movie, mainly because of the level of realism when it comes to filming the aerial scenes. The IMAX cameras and technology used to capture the reactions of the actors, not to mention the real pilots flying, just adds so much more depth and immersion to the sequel,” he adds.
The trade manager first became enamoured with the original Top Gun in his primary school days, which would later bloom into a way of life for him. He started to collect die-cast model aircrafts (especially the F-14 Tomcats), read aviation magazines like Take-Off, and play all sorts of video games related to airplanes and military warfare, before eventually buying the Top Gun soundtrack – the first-ever movie score purchase in his life.
With the film forming such a big part of his life, it’s no wonder Christopher Paul holds all of his viewing screenings so dearly to his heart, and this infatuation most certainly shows through his extensive knowledge and trivia about both movies. Apart from identifying the nods to the original 1986 work in the sequel, he also managed to recount and list down 21 of his most memorable moments from Top Gun: Maverick in great detail, complete with commentary, in his reply email to Geek Culture. Check out some of them below, verbatim:
- Maverick’s old hangar – where he kept his F-6K Mustang, his collection of motorbikes (at least 6 or more), Cobra & Jeep, and the photo collection of his family (parents + Goose, etc.).
- Hanger Briefing & Basic Fighter Maneuvers – Maverick becomes Viper, pushes everyone to their limit, goes inverted & performs a daredevil Cobra maneuver.
- “You’re Where You Belong / Give ‘Em Hell” Scene – I love watching this scene over and over again, as they prepare to go into battle. From the part where Maverick seeks divine guidance from Goose, to Hangman’s disappointed reaction when he’s not selected.
See what we mean? Impressive dedication all around, indeed.
Of course, there are bound to be some memorable moments over the course of attending 40-plus screenings. After being separated from his wife and son for more than two years due to the pandemic, he was finally able to celebrate a long-awaited reunion with two shows at IMAX Jewel on his family’s arrival day, which also happened to be the last day of screening on IMAX. During the first session, Christopher Paul then surprised his wife with a diamond ring at the end credits (and they say romance is dead). At a later date, he managed to complete an ace, scoring a five-time watch streak in the cinema with the seat number F-14 – a phenomenon that actually occurred by pure coincidence.
Lastly, our Top Gun Day event held a special place in his heart as well, as it was his very first time enjoying the movie on the silver screen on 13 May, two weeks before it officially opened to public. On that day, the surprise screening was only limited to three countries across the globe: Singapore, Brazil, and Mexico.
Now that Top Gun: Maverick is in the final stretch of its takeoff, the enthusiast plans to bump his viewing record to 46 or 50 times by the time it stops showing in cinemas, time and family permitting. “While I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching this movie over and over again at home when the 4K DVD is out, it’ll be hard to replicate the cinema experience at IMAX / 4DX cinemas,” he writes.
As the ultimate wingman soars to the skies for the last few times, he offers a piece of advice for those who have yet to catch the movie in cinemas, or are on the fence about doing so: “Come on man, don’t think, just watch! And then watch it another 45 times, over and over again.”
The fervour is not unfounded, especially with the movie’s impressive run thus far – it has earned Tom Cruise’s biggest local box office haul to date, raking in a whopping S$7.5 million on home ground.
Top Gun: Maverick is now screening in theatres.