Paramount and Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick earned a huge $19.3 million in previews as it began landing in North American theaters on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, including Thursday showings and a special fan screening on Tuesday.
That’s the best preview gross in Paramount’s history, and the best for any Memorial Day release.
The release of the long-awaited sequel to the iconic 1986 movie is poised to be a defining moment for the box office recovery, which so far has been largely fueled by superhero fare.
Top Gun 2 is easily headed for the biggest opening of Tom Cruise’s career at the domestic box office, with a four-day gross of at least $92 million, according to official tracking. And that’s a conservative estimate. Many pundits believe the critically acclaimed sequel could soar well north of $100 million domestically, but tracking — one of Hollywood’s favorite pastimes — has become fraught in the pandemic era. Exhibitors are especially bullish on the pic, and are even thinking it could hit $125 million-plus.
The film’s release was delayed two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cruise, a relentless promoter, went on a global marketing tour in recent weeks that saw him make stops at a world premiere in San Diego, the Cannes Film Festival, a Royal-sponsored screening in London and another premiere in Japan.
Cruise may be one of the world’s biggest movie stars, but his films — including the Mission: Impossible movies — have never sported the sort of mega-openings that superhero tentpoles or other franchise installments can enjoy (think Jurassic World or Fast & Furious). Instead, his films can play and play.
To date, 2005’s War of the Worlds ranks as Cruise’s top domestic opening with a three-day gross of $64.9 million, followed by 2018’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout at $61.2 million, according to Comscore and not adjusted for inflation. The rest of his films have opened to less than $60 million.
Overseas, Maverick opens in 62 markets, although it has yet to secure a China release date and won’t open in South Korea for two more weeks. Nor is Paramount presently making any of its titles available in Russia because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. If all goes well, the big-budget summer pic should near or cross $200 million globally in its debut.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick returns Cruise as the ultra-gifted and confident Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
The film, which presently sports a stellar 97 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, co-stars Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell and Ed Harris, while Val Kilmer also makes a brief appearance as “Iceman,” Maverick’s one-time nemesis-turned-pal. The film also features Lady Gaga’s ballad “Hold My Hand,” while the producing team includes Jerry Bruckheimer, who guided the 1986 film.
Looking to provide counter-programming, Disney is releasing 20h Century’s The Bob’s Burgers Movie in more than 3,400 theaters in North America. The PG-13 pic, based on the popular TV show that’s a favorite of teen girls, is tracking to gross $10 million to $14 million. It earned $1.5 million in previews.