CHICO – The most popular movie in the country picked up some of its “Need for Speed” right here in Butte County.
In 2019, Paramount Pictures reached out to Alicia Rock, chief operating officer at Northgate Aviation Chico Jet Center, to find people to work with and space for the aircraft. Although she didn’t know it at the time, she would help produce the movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” which stars Tom Cruise and continues the story of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, which originated with “Top Gun” in 1986. The film hit most theaters across the United States on Friday, May 27, 2022, and the buzz hasn’t stopped since.
“When I finally got the contract and saw it was Paramount Pictures, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, so this is real,'” Rock said.
Over the course of a few weeks, members of the film crew were stationed in a 19,000-square-foot hangar, which is owned and operated by the Rock family. During their stay, employees made use of a conference room that had a 1,200-square-foot whiteboard that they used to storyboard and sequence their shoots for the day. Although the team did not include any actors, it did include pilots who were going to fly in for the shots.
“Our facility can accommodate both at very competitive rates, so they decided to stick with us,” Rock said.
A major selling point that put Northgate Aviation at an advantage was how friendly the jet center was with the team. During the team’s stay, Rock was prepared to change the locks on the conference room doors to give the crew confidential access.
“One thing that’s really important to us as a family business is to remember that this crew that’s huge is going to be living in our local hotels and local businesses,” Rock said. “So of course, it was important for us to accommodate their needs because they directly impact our local economy.”
Some employees who went out to see the film in theaters saw anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes of scenes that were shot in local locations in Butte County, such as near Lake Oroville, Rock said.
According to Paramount, the blockbuster, which played to large crowds at Cinemark Chico 14 and XD throughout the weekend, is expected to bring in more than $150 million by the end of Memorial Day weekend, making it more important for Cruise’s 41-year film career. Will be the biggest start. , Worldwide, it has already brought in over $240 million.