‘The Blue Angels’ Soar in Stunning New IMAX Documentary

‘The Blue Angels’ Soar in Stunning New IMAX Documentary May 21, 2024

In the new high-flying Amazon MGM Studios documentary “The Blue Angels,” the incredible arial team from the Navy and Marine Corps is given center stage, thanks to director Paul Crowder and executive producer and aviator Greg Wooldridge. J.J. Abrams (“Alias,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) and Glen Powell (“Top Gun: Maverick”) also serve as producers, along with Sean Stuart, Glen Zipper, Mark Monroe, and Hannah Minghella.

‘The Blue Angels’ image courtesy of Prime Video.

For more than 75 years, the Blue Angels have been wowing crowds all around the globe for millions of spectators. The new documentary, filmed for IMAX with the 2022 season including three new pilots, puts viewers in the cockpit for some of their most jaw-dropping moments.

“A documentary following an entire year with the Blue Angels—and doing it in IMAX with tools that are traditionally used in narrative storytelling—felt like an amazing opportunity,” said Abrams. “Most of the preparation and planning went into filming the aerial maneuvers, but it doesn’t compare to what they go through in preparing for their season. It’s a remarkable thing to see.”

Recently, Crowder (“New York Cosmos,” “Dogtown and Z-Boys”) and Wooldridge, who led the Blue Angels team three times, spoke with Reel Faith about “The Blue Angels” documentary.

 

What an awesome documentary. I just marvel at it. The reason Blue Angels are on my radar was that I was a kid growing up in Marietta, Georgia in a trailer park across from Dobbins Air Force Base and we would go up there near the train tracks and watch them. How did this movie come about?

Greg Wooldridge: I flew there. Five years ago, I had this idea to make another documentary. And we were powering with full speed ahead until the pandemic, we got shut down there. We had to find Kevin LaRosa, aerial coordinator, had an interaction with him about “Devotion.” He asked what I was doing, and I said, “I want to make a Blue Angels movie.” We went we went ahead until the pandemic, and then we got shut down and I found Kevin and Glen Powell from Top Gun. And they said, “Let’s do it.” And we found the right people, and here we are. We finished it. Five years in the making.

Paul Crowder: I was involved for like two and a half years. Since I got came on board, once they found Glenn Powell, then got together with J.J. I was working with J.J. on another project. And they proposed the idea to me, I was like, “You betcha. I’m doing this. You better try and stop me.”

 

What was your introduction to Blue Angels when you first heard about them?

Paul Crowder: I knew about the Blue Angels. Of course, I’d seen the Red Arrows, which are the English version. When I was younger, back in England, my father was in the RAF doing his national service. The idea of being able to do an aerial film was a little bit daunting for me, because I’d never done something in the air. I’d worked with Formula One race cars, and worked with big wave surfers, and big musicians. But I’ve never done or dealt with pilots or military at all. I’m a rebel at heart. So, dealing with the military, I was a little daunted by all that, but it was an incredible position to be put in. And the first time we went to see the Blue Angels in Huntington Beach, it was just jaw-dropping. But I remember seeing that show and realizing the problems we were going to have with him having to film them. Sometimes they’re 10 miles apart, the Jets, before they come to their final minute, “How are we going to do this? How do we capture it when we have to do it with a Venice camera, which is a big, heavy camera to to use it for IMAX. So those were the difficulties. But once we had (Ariel Director) Kevin LaRosa (“Top Gun”) on board, and we talked through what we could do with him, once we have the trust of the pilots and the Navy and everybody to be able to put their helicopters there to attach the cameras inside the cockpit and get approval for all that, I knew visually we were going to be able to capture this now we have to capture the rest of it – how did these people take? How do they brief debrief, how do they interact, all the other personnel that are involved that make this thing happen, the 150 Plus personnel that are on the team, and the fact that they have to integrate a third of that team is brand new in when they get to El Centro in January, that’s a third of the team is a brand new include including three pilots.

They’ve they’ve got to all get their trust all that stuff together and you wanted to be able to show all of it, the picking the new boss, picking the new people for next year, how are they going to interact? So, we got to be a part of all of that and it couldn’t have gone any better. It could have been a more incredible experience, especially having someone like boss Greg here by your side to be able to guide you and tell you the do’s and don’ts, where you can, what to do and how this is going to happen. “Make sure you capture this,” gives you a heads up on things that might be coming up. Boss was like emailing every morning. “This is going to happen today, make sure you do we want to get this. This is going to have delayed you want to capture this.” He was just on the money with everything. So that really, really helped us be able to capture all the most important things and get a film hopefully that will inspire. Because it inspired me like crazy.

 

Thank you, guys. Greg, thank you for your years with the Blue Angels. They’ve inspired me as a kid. So, it’s really cool for full circle moment to get to talk to you.

Greg Wooldridge: Thanks, DeWayne, thank you very much. Thank you. Good to be here.

 

“The Blue Angels” is currently exclusively playing in IMAX theaters and will premiere on Prime Video May 23.

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