Michigan State University

May 16, 1986 : Top Gun Released

Jon Harrison
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Originally released May 16, 1986, "Top Gun" grossed approximately $171.1 million by the end of the year. When the home video market was in its infancy, the release of "Top Gun" on videocassette in March 1987 was bracketed by an $8 million advertising campaign, including the famous Diet Pepsi tie-in commercial. It was one of the first movies on video to be priced in the $20 range and it brought in about $79 million in rentals, according to the Internet Movie Database. Its 2004 DVD release further boosted sales, which now total about $354 million worldwide.

The soundtrack included chart-topping hits from Kenny Loggins (Danger Zone) and Berlin (Take My Breath Away). It also breathed new life into the Righteous Brothers' 1964 classic You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling. Sales of Ray-Ban sunglasses and leather bombers spiked, as did enlistment in the Air Force and the Navy.

Jack Epps, Jr., a 1972 Michigan State University graduate and screenwriter, co-wrote the screenplay to Top Gun with the late Jim Cash, his longtime writing partner and a former instructor at MSU.

The late Cash, a Boyne City native, graduated from Michigan State University in 1970 with an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in television and radio in 1972. He taught screenwriting and film history at his alma mater and was considered one of the university's most popular instructors.

"Jim was a terrific instructor," Epps recalled. "He loved his students. He was really popular. He loved getting people excited. Anything people wanted to do creatively, Jim was there to support them", recalled Epps.

The two stayed in touch, and Cash suggested they become writing partners. Cash remained in East Lansing, while Epps relocated to Santa Monica. The two never worked together in the same room and collaborated via computer.

In addition to Top Gun, they co-wrote 1986's comic thriller Legal Eagles, which starred Robert Redford and Debra Winger; 1987's Michael J. Fox comedy The Secret of My Success; 1989's Turner & Hooch, with Tom Hanks; 1990's Dick Tracy, with Warren Beatty, Al Pacino and Madonna; the 1997 monster movie Anaconda, with Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube; and 2000's The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

Source : Kurt Anthony Krug, "Top Gun at 25", Lansing City Pulse, July 6, 2011.

For more about Jack Epps Jr, see Jack Epps Jr. : USC School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

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