‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Sets Records and Dominates the Memorial Day Box Office

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May 31, 2022
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Not today, drone rangers. Not today. Navy aviators still rule the (entertainment) world.

“Top Gun: Maverick” was a massive box-office hit in its opening weekend, with a projected $160.5 million haul in North America over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. Add that to $124 million from the rest of the world and you get a $284.5 million worldwide gross.

How impressive is that number? There are some important facts to consider.

Hollywood analysts had the box-office numbers to be $100 million in the United States, with a $180 million worldwide total. “Maverick” blew past those numbers and went well beyond even the most optimistic predictions.

That $124 million haul does not include receipts from Russia or China. Paramount Pictures is not releasing its movies in Russia to protest President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing has yet to grant the movie a release date in China.

It’s been 36 years since the original “Top Gun” was released. That means that “Top Gun: Maverick” successfully lured in a younger demographic that doesn’t have the same emotional connection to Maverick and Iceman that their parents or grandparents do.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is by far the most successful movie of the pandemic era, and superhero movies like “The Batman” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” have been among the few reliable performers since theaters reopened.

Leave those comic-book movies out of the equation, and “Top Gun: Maverick” looks like the first real movie hit in more than two years. In the United States, “F9: The Fast Saga” opened with $70 million in June 2021, and the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” managed only $55 million last fall.

CinemaScore polls moviegoers as they leave theaters on opening weekend, and “Top Gun: Maverick” earned an A+ rating, an incredibly rare achievement for movies with an opening weekend box office over $100 million. Combine that with a 97% Certified Fresh rating from critics on RottenTomatoes.com, and the movie seems set for a long and successful stay in theaters.

Finally, “Top Gun: Maverick” is by far the biggest opening of Tom Cruise’s storied career. Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” had a three-day gross of $64.9 million in 2005, which was the previous record-holder for Cruise. He came close to matching that number in 2018 with “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” at $61.2 million. “Top Gun” enjoyed an $8.1 million opening weekend in 1986.

Unlike most Hollywood franchises that do most of their business on opening weekend, Cruise’s movies have historically made their money by playing well for weeks or months after that first weekend. Who knows what the ceiling for “Top Gun: Maverick” will prove to be?

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