Maverick lands in Seoul, wows the crowd and vows return

From left, actors Jay Ellis, Miles Teller, Tom Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, actors Glen Powell and Greg Tarzan Davis pose for a photo at a press event for their film "Top Gun: Maverick" at Lotte Hotel World in Jamsil, southern Seoul, on Monday

Tom Cruise, or Tom ajeossi, as he is affectionately known in Korea, returned to Korea for the 10th time.

This time around, it was to promote "Top Gun: Maverick" (2022), the sequel to "Top Gun" (1986), which catapulted Cruise to stardom. After 36 years, Cruise is back to reprise his role as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Maverick, who is serving as a U.S. Navy test pilot, is tasked with training Topgun aviators for a near-impossible mission in a little less than three weeks. What makes the mission more difficult is that among the group is Lieutenant Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (portrayed by Miles Teller), son of Maverick's late best friend, who was killed during a mission with Maverick.

The film was theatrically released last month globally. It has grossed $885 million worldwide, beating the $791.1 million of "Mission: Impossible — Fallout" (2018). For Paramount Pictures, it is the studio's second highest-grossing release after "Titanic" (1997).

Global media outlets such as Deadline and Cinemablend predict that the film could end up making over $1 billion worldwide, and that Korea, where the actor has a huge following, could help the film reach that goal.

Cruise landed at Korea's Gimpo International Airport Friday from Britain, where he's currently shooting his eighth "Mission: Impossible" film. On Sunday, Cruise, Miles, Jay Ellis, Glen Powell, Greg Tarzan Davis and producer Jerry Bruckheimer spent three hours outside for the fans at the red carpet premiere at the Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, southern Seoul.

Tom Cruise reprises his role as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun: Maverick," a sequel to 1986 film "Top Gun." [LOTTE ENTERTAINMENT]

"It was very important to all of us to be able to come here in person and share the communal experience of watching a movie in a theater together," Cruise said at the press event at Lotte Hotel World in southern Seoul, Monday. "Thank you for the warm welcome, always."

"I make my films for you. It's a privilege," he told his fans.

Despite years of pleas for a "Top Gun" sequel, Cruise hesitated because he didn't "ever want to disappoint the fans."

"In every country I go to, people would ask for a sequel," Cruise said. "There's a tremendous amount of pressure. Jerry and I talked about it and made a list of parameters on how to approach making this movie. We agreed that we're not going to stop until we get it right."

Bruckheimer praised Cruise's passion for the film.

"We're so fortunate to have Tom, who's worked on so many exceptional movies," Bruckheimer said. "He's like a sponge. He loves to learn. What Tom demands of everybody is excellence, and you see it in the movie. You see it on every performance, every camera, you see it in every pin that goes on in storytelling."

Cruise praised the rest of the cast for their dedication to the film. They all went through a three-month training program that involved flight training and had to operate camera equipment themselves in some scenes.

From left, actors Jay Ellis, Miles Teller, Tom Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, actors Glen Powell and Greg Tarzan Davis treat the press to finger hearts at a press event for their film "Top Gun: Maverick" at Lotte Hotel World in Jamsil, southern

"The beauty of making films is it's a group effort," Cruise said. "You have to have everyone's agreement on how you're going to do it and what you're reaching for. It takes a very dedicated, unrelenting commitment by all of us. That is something I demand for myself and I ask of the people I'm working with."

Cruise also commented on the film's success globally.

"There's something very unique about the story that has great drama, big visual action, and a very personal story about honor, about friendship, about family. I think these are values that we can all identify with and connect with. I think it's told in a way that's very entertaining. It's something about the world that captures my imagination and Jerry's. That's why I think audiences, they just connect with it."

What was emphasized in local media was that this is Cruise's 10th visit to Korea over 28 years. Cruise's love for the country started long before its entertainment industry went global. He first visited Korea for his 1994 film "Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles," then came back to the country nine more times for "Mission: Impossible II" (2000), "Vanilla Sky" (2001), "Valkyrie" (2008), "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" (2011), "Jack Reacher" (2012), "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation" (2015), "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" (2016), "Mission: Impossible — Fallout" and now, "Top Gun: Maverick."

Cruise's affection for Korea and his fans could be felt from the moment he stepped on the land. He warmly greeted fans at the airport with finger hearts and took long-distance selfie shots with them as close contact was difficult due to Covid-19.

During the red carpet event, Cruise promised fans that he would be back next summer as well.

Scenes from the film "Top Gun: Maverick" [LOTTE ENTERTAINMENT]

"Oh my gosh, it was amazing," he said, when discussing the event. "I don't want to say goodbye. I don't want to leave. But I'll tell you this: I'll come back next summer and the summer after that with "Mission: Impossible."

Jennifer Connelly as Penelope "Penny" Benjamin, who is Maverick's rekindled love interest. She is also a single mother, a bar owner, and the daughter of a former admiral. [LOTTE ENTERTAINMENT]

"Thank you for allowing me to entertain you. It is my lifelong dream to be able to do this. Something I'll never take for granted. I feel very privileged. I have to quote one of my own films that 'you complete me,'" he said alluding to a line from "Jerry Maguire" (1996) "All of you, I love you."

The film will be released in local theaters Wednesday.

Cruise greets the fans at the red carpet event at the Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, southern Seoul, Sunday. [YONHAP]

According to data provided by the Korean Film Council, 168,372 moviegoers have reserved tickets. For "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," 135,972 tickets were reserved two days prior to its release. A total of 6.58 million ticket were sold for "Fallout." For "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," 7.57 million tickets were sold.