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Calls erupt for 'Top Gun' to be stripped of Oscar nominations over tie to Russian oligarch

WBBM Radio Chicago 3/9/2023 Mark Menard
Top Gun: Maverick © Provided by WBBM Radio Chicago Top Gun: Maverick

Following new reports over how it obtained funding for its production, one of 2022’s biggest blockbusters at the box office is experiencing a backlash from some who want it stripped of its nominations at this weekend’s Academy Awards.

“Top Gun: Maverick” was far and away last year’s highest-grossing film domestically, raking in over $718 million from U.S. audiences and besting 2022’s second-place film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, by over $280 million.

Only eight films last year grossed more than just the margin of separation between “Maverick” and everyone else, according to figures from

In January 2023 though, reports surfaced that one of the movie’s backers was Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev through his position as a silent investor in New Republic Pictures, a movie studio based in Los Angeles, Calif.

Rybolovlev is listed among other individual Russian nationals who have been sanctioned due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian World Congress, a coalition made up of Ukrainian expatriates and based in Toronto, wrote an open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group responsible for the Oscars, asking for the Academy to remove “Maverick” from the running just days ahead of this Sunday’s awards presentation.

“The Ukrainian World Congress expresses its serious concerns over Russia's influence on the Hollywood film industry,” UWC president Paul Grod wrote in the letter.

The film is nominated in six categories including Best Picture of the Year.

“Top Gun: Maverick” was a sequel to the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun” and found Tom Cruise returning to one of his biggest roles, fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

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