How Tom Cruise and Pepsi Changed The Way We Watch Movies

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures / Paramount Pictures

Teens today enjoy Netflix binge-sessions. Nineties kids had Blockbuster. But movie fans that grew up in the early '80s likely still remember an era where the very act of watching a VHS tape in the comfort of their homes room was a novel experience.

As Cracked host Tom Reimann explains in the video below, Hollywood once made big bucks by re-releasing theatrical hits like Jaws, Star Wars, and The Godfather every few years. When VHS tapes hit the market, Tinseltown executives tried to offset potential revenue losses by pricing tapes at exorbitantly high costs. In 1986, films like Return of the Jedi cost between $80 and $100 (which would be $180 to $225 in today's dollars), making home viewing sessions an expensive luxury. Meanwhile, video stores were required to make customers join a “rental club,” with yearly annual fees as high as $200 ($440 today).

This all changed, however, with the VHS release of Tom Cruise's 1986 hit Top Gun. Paramount Pictures, which produced the film, struck a deal with Pepsi: They agreed to include a commercial for the beverage brand's diet soda before the opening credits and, in exchange, Pepsi would plug Top Gun during its TV commercials. Figuring that the free publicity would boost sales significantly, Paramount was able to sell the VHS version for the newly affordable price of $26.95.

Learn more about how a single soda commercial, and Tom Cruise's need for speed, revolutionized the way we consume media by watching Cracked's video below.