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July 17, 2024

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Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

Tennessee Aquarium to Host Special Early IMAX Premiere of Top Gun Sequel

The sequel to the classic 1986 action-drama will touch down on Chattanooga’s largest screen for an early access premiere on Tuesday, May 24.

In a move that would earn an approving nod from its rebellious flyboy namesake, Top Gun: Maverick is kicking off the summer season by making an early landing at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater.

Set to open nationally on Friday, May 27, the sequel to producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s classic 1986 action-drama will touch down on Chattanooga’s largest screen for a special “Top Gun Tuesday” early access premiere on Tuesday, May 24. Tickets to this premiere event are $18 and include fan gifts and six additional minutes of footage.

A limited run of daily screenings for Top Gun: Maverick will follow the premiere, beginning Thursday, May 26, and continuing through Sunday, June 5 (all showings are in 2D).

About Top Gun: Maverick

Oft-delayed following its 2017 announcement, Maverick is the long-awaited reprisal of Tom Cruise’s iconic role as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

In the 1986 original, Cruise’s Maverick is a devil-may-care ace lieutenant more concerned with buzzing traffic control towers than toeing the line. After a top-tier finish to a harrowing mission, however, Maverick and his best friend and wingman “Goose” (Anthony Edwards) are sent to attend the Navy’s elite Navy Fighter Weapons School (NFWS, aka “TOPGUN”).

Once there, they vie for the school’s top honors alongside other charismatic enrollees and instructors such as “Ice” (Val Kilmer), “Viper” (Tom Skerritt), “Jester” (Michael Ironside) and “Merlin” (Tim Robbins). Oh, and then there’s a now-iconic, steamy romance between Maverick and civilian flight instructor Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).

In the sequel, Maverick now works as a test pilot and has barely advanced in the Navy, having only achieved the rank of captain despite more than three decades of service. Nevertheless, his flying chops are undiminished, and he’s called on to return to TOPGUN. This time, however, he’s on the other side of the lectern, serving as an instructor to a new class of would-be aces such as “Hangman” (Glen Powell), “Phoenix” (Monica Barbaro), “Payback” (Jay Ellis) and Goose’s son Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller).

Like the iconic ’80s original, Maverick will be packed with thrilling dog fights and white-knuckle aerial maneuvers in state-of-the-art aircraft. These moments will feel even more exciting on the Tennessee Aquarium’s giant, six-story screen thanks to the facility’s IMAX with Laser projection system. The unmatched brightness and resolution of the theater’s visuals combined with a thunderous 12-speaker audio will help viewers feel like they’re flying in formation with Maverick and company.

What’s New at Tennessee Aquarium?

Top Gun will engage the afterburners for summertime fun at the Aquarium, but visitors have far more to look forward to during their visit.

A new wave of whimsical, colorful works of art were installed in both Aquarium buildings in April. An 11-foot tall seahorse, toothsome Silvertip Shark, and friendly Sea Lion are among more than a dozen displayed pieces, which are comprised of creatively repurposed plastic debris collected during beach cleanups. Artisans from Washed Ashore, an Oregon-based nonprofit conservation organization, have cunningly transformed “art supplies” delivered with each crashing wave into these thought-provoking masterpieces.

More than just artistic novelties or fodder for Instagram, however, Washed Ashore is designed to pique the curiosity of viewers and inspire them to scrutinize their reliance on plastic and find ways to reduce it wherever possible.

Guests seeking a new perspective of the Aquarium or a bit of behind-the-scenes fun can sign up for special Deeper Dives guided tours. Groups of up to eight guests are led through the Aquarium before opening hours by knowledgeable experts who offer new insights into galleries and exhibits, host feedings and up-close animal encounters and show off backstage areas that reveal how the Aquarium ensures the health and happiness of its more than 10,000 animal residents.

Aquarium members may register for a Deeper Dives tour for $40. Tours are available to non-members for $85 (price includes Aquarium admission). Deeper Dives are offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings. Start times vary by day. For more information, visit

To learn more about Washed Ashore, visit

Additional details, advanced tickets and a screening schedule for Top Gun: Maverick — including the Top Gun Tuesday early access premiere — are available at



About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.