Tom Cruise as Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun:...

Tom Cruise as Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun: Maverick," the highest-grossing film of the year.  Credit: Paramount Pictures via TNS / Scott Garfield

Daredevil film star Tom Cruise, famously known for doing his own stunts, parachutes from a helicopter in a video thanking fans for making his "Top Gun: Maverick" the highest-grossing picture of the year, both domestically and worldwide.

"Hey, everyone!" the youthful 60-year-old says in an online video posted late Sunday afternoon. Sitting on the edge of a helicopter, speaking through a tucked-away microphone amid a powerful rush of wind, he explains, "Here we are over stunning South Africa and we're filming 'Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning' Parts One and Two. And I didn’t want the year to end without thanking you all for coming out to the theater and [to] thank you for supporting 'Top Gun: Maverick'!"

A hand from off-screen pats him on the shoulder. The camera pans to show another passenger. "This here," says Cruise, "is Chris McQuarrie, writer-director" of these next two films in the espionage-adventure franchise based on the TV series.

"Hi, everybody. Hey. Thank you," says McQuarrie, 54, strapped into a seat. Tapping his wristwatch, he tells Cruise, "Hey, uh, listen, we really gotta roll. We gotta get this shot."

"Oh, yeah, we're filming!" Cruise answers with mock surprise. "We gotta get this shot! All right," he asks McQuarrie, "are you coming?"

"Not on your life!" the filmmaker replies. "Good luck!"

"OK! We'll see you down there!" Cruise says happily, pushing off backward into free fall. After a few seconds he says nonchalantly. "Where was I? Oh, yeah: Thank you for supporting 'Top Gun: Maverick'! As always, thank you for allowing us to entertain you. It truly is the honor of a lifetime."

Three seconds of free fall pass. "Yeah." Five of free fall. "Very lucky." Then after a pause: "I'm running out of altitude, so I better get back to work. We gotta get this shot!" As the ground comes up at him alarmingly quickly, Cruise wishes us "a very safe and happy holiday! We'll see you at the movies!"

The camera pulls back and he begins spinning toward open water. We never see Cruise's parachute open. Then a snippet of "Top Gun: Maverick" comes on, and a narrator informs viewers the movie arrives on the streaming service Paramount+ on Dec. 22. The movie, a sequel to his jet-pilot action classic "Top Gun" (1986), earned $718.7 million domestically and nearly $1.489 billion total worldwide, taking this year's top spot in both categories.

Monday morning, Cruise additionally posted a breathtaking, nearly 9½-minute behind-the-scenes video for "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One," detailing the more than yearlong preparations and training for what Cruise calls the franchise's biggest stunt: the star driving a motorcycle off a ramp on a Norwegian cliff, letting go of the bike in midair and then free-falling to a spot where he can steer a canopy parachute through a gorge, all while hitting marks for camera position. One crew member says Cruise then repeated the stunt five more times that day.

The film, the seventh in the franchise. is scheduled for release July 14.

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