It was epic. Last Thursday’s episode of The Late Late Show featured the greatest spectacle in on-screen skydiving since Point Break. Nighttime talk show host, James Corden, went skydiving with one of the most recognized humans on the planet (and now the world’s most famous skydiver), Tom Cruise.
It’s important to recognize the significance of this skydive. Corden and Cruise’s jump has cast the brightest, most mainstream light on the sport since Patrick Swayze made the iconic 10-minute conversational jump with his buddies in the 1991 film. While the effect on tandem bookings remains to be realized, the industry has received a marketing and PR boost on a global scale that guarantees that the awareness of tandem skydiving has skyrocketed. Corden and Cruise’s hilarious and inspiring shared experience will positively affect bookings.
Here’s why this skydive has the potential to be transformative for the skydiving industry:
Let’s talk about the obvious and most significant difference between Point Break and the Corden / Cruise jump: the existence of the internet and social media.
In 1991, the internet wasn’t even a “thing” and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was only seven years old. Point Break, which is now a cult classic but then wasn’t a smash hit, was released in theatres in the shadow of one of the decade’s most famous movies, Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Point Break was released in a little over 1600 theatres across the US, meaning that it took quite some time for multiple-millions of people to see the two-hour long movie which featured only a few minutes of skydiving.
Edited footage of the Corden / Cruise jump was 11 minutes and 35 seconds in length and was the entire focus of the segment. Thanks to social media and the internet, this video has reached multiple millions the world over in a handful of days.
The video was released on Facebook and YouTube and in a mere 72 hours the video has been seen:
Facebook: 14 MILLION VIEWS
YouTube: 7.4 MILLION VIEWS
If a marketing agency were to dream up an advertising campaign for skydiving it would never be as impactful as what was just released. Can you imagine if this were pitched in a creative meeting? Tom Cruise and James Corden go skydiving… Impossible.
In a time when YouTube celebs are sought after for their influence, there are a few additional elements about this video that make it extraordinary. While it’s known in marketing circles that holding the viewer’s attention for any length of time is a challenge, it’s also known that if you can get your viewer to laugh, you can get your viewer to listen. Corden and Cruise’s skydive had audiences laughing from the video’s onset through its 11+ minutes of glory. And the skydiving industry basked in the bliss of the sport being lifted up and celebrated as fun and exciting for a change, rather than being the subject of sensationalism and scrutiny.
This video represents a major victory for skydiving in that it showcases the sport’s accessibility.
Cruise, like Swayze, is archetypal. He’s athletic, uber-wealthy, excessively confident and notoriously handsome. He’s been consistently cast as a superhuman badass since Top Gun.
Corden is closer to the everyman. He’s of average build, rather vulnerable and notoriously self-deprecating. As seen on his famous Carpool Karaoke segments, he’s as starstruck as the rest of us and won’t let pride stand in the way of his emotions.
If James Corden can skydive, then most anyone can.
The video wouldn’t have had the same effect if Cruise had jumped alone. Although, it bodes well for skydiving that someone as cool as Tom Cruise (who has 11 million Facebook followers) is a seasoned skydiver.
Tom Cruise’s Equipment
Canopy: Performance Designs Pulse
Container: Rigging Innovations Curv
Helmet: Bonehead Aero
Altimeter: L & B Alti-Track
Had this video been released during the winter months, DZs would have missed out on the opportunity to capitalize on its popularity. Instead, it was released during the Western Hemisphere’s peak skydiving season and will likely give a much-needed surge to tandem sales. Already, every DZ that has published the video to social media pages has enjoyed major engagement from followers through likes, comments and shares.
Will The Response Be as Big as Point Break?
This is the million dollar question. The attention Point Break brought to the industry was unprecedented and has since been unsurpassed (including by its 2015 remake). If Mission: Impossible – Fallout turns out to be as successful as it’s anticipated to be, there is hope. And with the franchise just having its largest opening at the box office in its history, there is real excitement across the field.
What’s more, Cruise did all of the jumps captured in the film. Not in front of a green screen and not with a double, but in real life. In fact, this is what set the stage for the Cruise / Corden jump. Corden mocked Cruise during his interview on The Late Late Show, saying skydiving was no major feat. Cruise then challenged Corden to a skydive and eat his words, and the rest is likely to be a major part of skydiving history.
Swayze has been our hero for 27 years, will Corden and Cruise carry the torch from here? We’ll watch and wait, and hope for blue skies while the bookings roll in.