Director Tony Scott, who authorities said died Sunday after jumping off a bridge, had been set to direct a sequel to the movie that made him famous, "Top Gun," as his next project.
Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions had hoped to start production on the follow-up to the 1986 naval air combat classic early next year and release it as a high-profile tentpole in 2014. It was one of the highest-priority pictures in development for both companies.
The original "Top Gun," which grossed a then-spectacular $354 million worldwide, immediately turned Scott from a respected British commercial director just beginning his filmmaking career into a Hollywood A-lister (following in the footsteps of his older brother Ridley, who had already directed "Alien" and "Blade Runner").
The next year, he directed Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop 2" and then went on to make big-budget thrillers including "Days of Thunder," "Crimson Tide," "Enemy of the State" and "Man on Fire" along with edgier fare such as "True Romance" and "Domino."
"Top Gun 2," which is currently being written, would focus on the role of drones in modern aerial warfare. It has attracted several big-name screenwriters over the last two years including Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects") and Peter Craig ("The Town").
Tom Cruise had planned to return in his starring role as Maverick, and Jerry Bruckheimer would again produce. Convincing the duo and Scott to reunite was key in putting the long-discussed project on the runway.
"Top Gun 2" has been a passion project for Skydance chief David Ellison, the son of Silicon Valley mogul Larry Ellison, who is also an accomplished aerobatic pilot. He has been the driving force behind the movie, which Skydance would co-finance with Paramount.