Tom Cruise’s star-spangled blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick” capped off Memorial Day weekend with a box office debut for the record books. The sequel, which sees Cruise return to the cockpit after 36 years, collected $156 million in its first four days of release.
Those ticket sales were enough to overtake Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which launched with $153 million over the long weekend in 2007, as the biggest Memorial Day debut in history.
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Paramount and Skydance had originally expected “Top Gun: Maverick” to finish the long weekend with $151 million, but the film had a better-than-expected turnout on Sunday, pushing the three-day haul to $126 million. (Sunday’s estimates had the three-day tally at $124 million.) The movie played 4,732 North American cinemas, the widest release of all time.
In a promising sign for summer movie season, “Top Gun: Maverick” — without the help of costumed heroes or fantastical spells — landed one of the top pandemic-era openings after “Spider-Man: No Way Home” ($260 million), “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($187 million) and “The Batman” ($134 million). Hollywood hopes a range of movies, like “Jurassic World Dominion” (June 9), “Elvis” (June 24) and Jordan Peele’s “Nope” (July 22), will continue to entice audiences beyond the expectedly popular Marvel fare.
It also secured the biggest debut in Cruise’s 40-year career, as well as his first movie to surpass $100 million in a single weekend. “War of the Worlds,” which opened to $64 million in 2005, previously stood as Cruise’s biggest opening weekend, followed by 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” with $61 million.
At the international box office, the sequel to 1986’s “Top Gun” took flight with $124 million, boosting its global total to a staggering $248 million.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the $170 million-budgeted “Top Gun: Maverick” picks up decades after the original and follows Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he trains a new group of cocky aviators for a crucial assignment. The cast includes Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly and Val Kilmer, who played Iceman in the first “Top Gun.”
Positive word of mouth, rapturous reviews and premium screens helped to boost ticket sales for “Top Gun: Maverick.” The film, which pulled in $21 million domestically from Imax alone, has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and a rare “A+” CinemaScore.
As expected, nearly 55% of ticket buyers were 35 or older. But that turnout is still impressive because adult audiences have been the most reluctant to return to theaters amid the pandemic. And, the dazzling stunts in “Maverick” managed to entice a significant percentage of younger moviegoers, as 45% of people were 35 or under. The film’s reception should be helpful in continuing to appeal to younger crowds.
Despite countless delays (the “Top Gun” sequel was scheduled to open in the summer of 2020 until COVID-19 scrambled those plans), Cruise was adamant that “Maverick” play on the big screen.
“I’m gratified we made this decision to hang on,” Paramount’s domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson says about keeping the film in theaters. He predicts, “This movie is going to have a huge run. It’s going to draw people to theaters who haven’t been in a long time.”
Disney and 20th Century’s “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” the only new release brave enough to battle “Top Gun,” served up $12.4 million over the traditional weekend and $14.8 million through Monday. That’s a decent result for a modestly budgeted film based on an animated TV show.
“TV-based animation is generally the smallest type of theatrical animation,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “This is a good opening.”
“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” landed in third place behind “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which dropped to No. 2 after three consecutive weeks of box office glory. Disney’s newest Marvel Cinematic Universe installment declined roughly 50%, bringing in $15.8 million between Friday and Sunday and $20.5 million through Monday. With Monday’s estimates, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” has generated a huge $375.8 million to date.