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Tom Cruise had the biggest theatrical release of his career with Top Gun: Maverick, which grossed an estimated $151 million at the box office as of Memorial Day weekend.
The Paramount film, which has been delayed multiple times due to the coronavirus pandemic, now holds the record for the second-best Memorial Day opening ever behind Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which grossed $153 million back in 2007 released.
Global totals were also expected to top $275 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter, despite not being set in either China or Russia.
Top Gun opened Friday with a staggering $51.8 million and more than $19 million in sneak previews in 4,700 theaters across North America.
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Ticket buyers gave the Jerry Bruckheimer film an A+ on CinemaScore, with more than 70% of viewers aged 25 and over and 55% of viewers aged 35 and over.
Despite being one of Hollywood’s hardest hitters, Cruise had never had a major premiere since 2005’s “War of the Worlds” starring Dakota Fanning.
The sci-fi film, directed by Steven Spielberg, grossed $64.9 million over the three-day weekend.
Comscore also noted that 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” grossed $61.2 million, but Cruise’s films all opened at less than $60 million.
Cruise said “Top Gun” would “never” make its theatrical debut on a streaming network, despite years of setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cruise and the Top Gun team landed on the Cannes Film Festival last week for the European premiere, a spectacle that saw eight fighter jets fly high over the Palais, behind which billowed red and blue smoke that matched the colors of the French flag.
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Festival President Pierre Lescure also announced Cruise as the recipient of a surprise Palme d’Or – some 15 Palms of Honor had previously been awarded – on stage with an audience giving a standing ovation just before the screening of the sequel began.
The 59-year-old actor returned to Cannes for the first time in three decades, walking alongside him “Top Gun” Co-stars including Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Glen Powell. He last attended the star-studded event with ex-wife Nicole Kidman in 1992 for their Far and Away flick, directed by Ron Howard.
Maverick was originally slated for a July 2019 release through Paramount Pictures, but was delayed in August 2018 “to allow the production to work out all the complex flight sequences,” according to Deadline.
When asked if he felt any pressure to release the film on a streaming network in any form, Cruise assured audiences it would “never” happen.
“That would never happen,” Cruise said while laughing in excerpts published on The Hollywood Reporter. “That could never have happened.”
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Cruise recalled picking up the phone and calling each cast member every time the film’s release date was pushed back, just to reassure everyone to stay calm and focus on what they were creating.
Cruise recalled telling his co-stars, “Don’t worry, this is going to happen.”
Days before the March 2020 worldwide shutdown, Paramount pushed the film back two days early for a June 24, 2020 release, but it was later pushed back to December 23. In July 2020, the film received another new schedule change by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cruise’s schedule and the release of Mulan and Tenet scheduled on the same days.
The studio’s scheduling problems continued once the film was finished Postponed again April 2021 for a November release and again in September 2021, when executives finally landed on May 27, 2022, the launch date.
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Cruise first played Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a young naval aviator aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. He has worked with Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins and Anthony Edwards.
The first world premiere of “Maverick” was the beginning of “Top Gun” almost 40 years ago in San Diego, California.