Studio heads at Paramount Pictures are feeling the need, the need for social distancing.

On Thursday, actor Tom Cruise confirmed dreaded expectations when he tweeted that “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to the 1986 naval aviation big screen staple, would be pushed back six months from its previously scheduled release date of June 24, 2020.

“I know many of you have waited 34 years,” Cruise tweeted Thursday. “Unfortunately, it will be a little longer. Top Gun: Maverick will fly this December. Stay safe, everyone.”

If audience anticipation for “Top Gun: Maverick” wasn’t already redlining following the release of the film’s trailers, an even longer wait — coupled a recent interview with Tom Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer in an upcoming May issue of Empire Magazine — should certainly do the trick.

Details revealed in the Empire interview include director Joseph Kosinski’s (“Oblivion,” “Only the Brave”) decision to put IMAX cameras in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Super Hornet to showcase CGI-free in-flight sequences that feature actors physically in the aircraft bolting through frames of stunning terrain and low altitude.

Trained pilots, of course, were at the helm (off-camera).

Cruise requested to pilot an F-18, Empire reported, but the Navy objected, perhaps cognizant that an actor at the controls of a Super Hornet could be the very danger zone Kenny Loggins always warned of.

Still, the 57-year-old actor pilots both a World War II-era P-51 Mustang — an aircraft he personally owns — and a helicopter in the film.

“I said to the studio, 'You don’t know how hard this movie’s going to be,” Cruise told Empire. “No-one’s ever done this before. There’s never been an aerial sequence shot this way. I don’t know if there ever will be again, to be honest.”

When it finally does land in theaters, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which Cruise characterized as “emotional,” promises to be one of the more visually immersive cinematic experiences.

The long-awaited sequel is one of many films modifying theatrical releases to accommodate the entire world grinding to a screeching halt in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Studio decision-makers at Paramount, for example, recently pushed back the release of the much-anticipated sequel to John Krasinski’s thriller, “A Quiet Place,” starring Cillian Murphy alongside the original film’s lead, Emily Blunt.

As for “Top Gun,” cinema goers can now expect to enjoy the harrowing exploits of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell when the film lands in theaters on Dec. 23, 2020.

Let us recite the traditional naval aviator’s prayer, “Great Balls of Fire,” and summon good fortune from the holy ghost of Goose, lest this date, too, require future amendment.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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