Tom Cruise has pulled off perhaps one of the most daring stunts of his career – getting audiences to go to the movies for something that doesn’t involve superheroes.
Top Gun: Maverick racked up blockbuster ticket sales in its opening weekend, raising $134 million from a record 4,732 North American theaters. The all-American action-adventure from Paramount and Skydance is expected to gross $151 million by Monday, beating expectations while also aiming to set a new record for Memorial Day opening weekends. (Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which launched at $153 million for the 2017 long weekend, currently holds the holiday record.) It’s a testament to glowing reviews, heaps of nostalgia, and Cruise’s return to the cockpit to perform real-life aerial stunts as pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
At the international box office, the 1986 sequel to Top Gun grossed $124 million, an impressive figure given that the film isn’t showing in key territories of China and Russia. Overall, Top Gun: Maverick has grossed $248 million worldwide.
Top Gun: Maverick is the highest-grossing domestic debut of Cruise’s 40-year career and his first to surpass $100 million in its opening weekend. War of the Worlds, which opened in 2005 with $64 million, was previously Cruise’s biggest opening weekend.
The 40+ audience, the people who were front and center when Paramount greenlit another Top Gun, outnumbered them (55% of the ticket buyers), which is impressive because that’s the demographic to which it is most hesitant to return to theatre. Still, the dazzling stunts in Maverick managed to attract a significant percentage of millennial moviegoers — 45% of people were 35 years old or younger — who weren’t alive when Top Gun opened 36 years ago. The film’s positive word of mouth should help it continue to reach younger audiences.
David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research, called the film’s three-day number “outstanding.”
“The source material remains strong, the execution is excellent and Tom Cruise makes sure it works flawlessly,” he says.
Imax and 3D screens contributed to higher revenues for “Maverick” with 22% of total box office revenues coming from premium formats. Imax alone is expected to contribute $21 million domestically and $32.5 million globally over the long weekend.
“If you thought movies were dead, watch Top Gun: Maverick and then let me know what you think,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax. “Heralding the return of the summer blockbuster, this film is a catalyst that will accelerate the demand for admissions like an F-18 breaking the sound barrier. There’s no way you’re sitting in a theater with a huge screen and loud speakers and you can’t get away with the thought that you want to experience Top Gun: Maverick in a different way.”
“Top Gun: Maverick” continues a stellar box office run for Paramount and marks the studio’s fifth film this year to start at number one. Without the help of comics or angry dinosaurs, the studio’s 2022 roster – also consisting of “Sonic the Hedgehog” ($182 million in North America), “The Lost City” ($102 million in North America), ” Scream” ($81 million). in North America) and “Jackass Forever” ($57 million in North America) – has been well received in theaters. It’s an impressive recovery, as Paramount barely released movies during the pandemic, instead sending big titles like Chris Pratt’s The Tomorrow War, director Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Eddie Murphy’s Coming 2 America to streaming services sent.
Despite countless delays (the Top Gun sequel was scheduled for release in summer 2020, until COVID-19 threw those plans upside down), Cruise insisted that Maverick didn’t follow in the footsteps of those direct-stream movies. The two-year wait has already paid off since the film received rave reviews. It has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and a rare “A+” CinemaScore.
“I’m glad we made the decision to stay tuned,” said Chris Aronson, Paramount’s domestic sales director, of keeping the film on the big screen. “This film is going to have a huge run. It will attract people to the cinema who haven’t been in a long time.”
Joseph Kosinski directed the PG-13 Top Gun: Maverick, set decades after the original and sees Maverick training a new group of cocky aviators for a crucial task. The cast includes Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly and Val Kilmer, who played Iceman in the first Top Gun.
Top Gun: Maverick also needs theaters to justify its whopping $170 million production budget, which doesn’t include the tens of millions spent promoting the film to global audiences. Those efforts included a spectacular premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, culminating with eight fighter jets flying over the Croisette (the French government paid for these). Skydance Media co-produced and co-financed the film.
Only one film, Disney and 20th Century’s The Bob’s Burgers Movie, was bold enough to go up against Top Gun: Maverick. For a film based on a long-running animated TV show, The Bob’s Burgers Movie grossed an impressive $12.6 million from 3,425 venues, enough for third place on the box office charts. The well-reviewed film would finish the long Memorial Day weekend with $15 million.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie finished just behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which fell to #2 on the domestic box office after three weeks. Disney’s latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe fell 50% over its fourth weekend of release and added $16.5 million from 3,805 theaters. It is expected to reach $21.1 million over the four-day period. The superhero sequel, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has grossed $375 million in North America to date and a whopping $868.7 million worldwide.
At No. 4, Downton Abbey: A New Era has plummeted 63% since opening, raising $5.9 million between Friday and Sunday. It is estimated to have grossed $7.5 million from 3,830 theaters through Monday. After two weeks in theaters, the sequel to the hit British TV series has grossed $30 million in North America and $68.9 million worldwide on the big screen. The sequel cost $40 million to produce, meaning the latest Downton adventure has a long way to go before it breaks even.
Universal’s heist animated comedy The Bad Guys rounded out the top five with $4.6 million from 2,944 locations. As of Monday, the family-friendly film should gross $6.1 million, which will take its domestic tally to $82 million.
With not much on the schedule until June 10th for Jurassic World: Dominion, you can expect Top Gun Maverick to keep flying high above the movie theaters.