He arrives for the big boat movie.
Photo: Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise didn’t want to do Topgun 2. He had long resisted Hollywood’s pleas to reboot, remake or ‘reinvent’ the 1986 original. But after being convincingly introduced by director Joseph Kosinski in 2017 — and personally calling Paramount to let the studio know it would be distributing the film — the superstar threw himself into the process as a performer and producer, pulling multiple Gs (while using his own cameras in the cockpit of an F-18) to reprise his role as brash flying ace Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in what is arguably the defining film of his career A- list.

“Tom described it as hitting a ball with a ball,” Kosinski said after the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick at CinemaCon in April. “We knew the bar was high.”

It’s fair to say that at this point the sequel – with release pushed back five times between 2019 and 2022 – has more than successfully taken off. During the weekend, maverick surpassed the billion dollar mark in worldwide ticket sales to become the most successful film in Cruise’s 40-year career. It’s the highest-grossing film of 2022 so far and only the second film of the N-95 era to join the three-comma club. (The other is, of course, Spider-Man: No Coming Home.)

On the heels of an opening weekend that set a new bar for the Memorial Day aisle, drawing in the recalcitrant moviegoer population of viewers over the age of 35, maverick turned into a four-quadrant crowd pleaser – young and old, people of all genders, Gen Xers and their recalcitrant Zoomer children. He lost to flashy new Baz Luhrmann Elvis just $1 million biopic last weekend as a testament to the military thriller’s supersonic endurance. In fact, Paramount claims that an impressive 16% of maverickAudiences of have been regular viewers.

“There haven’t been a lot of collective experiences lately,” says Marc Weinstock, Paramount’s global president of marketing and distribution. “It’s a movie that makes you clap, laugh, cry, walk out of the theater happier than when you walked in. When you have something like that – with explosive word of mouth, like, ‘Oh, you gotta see it !’ – everyone should participate in the conversation.

maverickThe numbers – which would be impressive in a pre-pandemic summer, when moviegoers’ confidence levels weren’t stuck at 85% (according to the National Research Group’s latest survey) – are all the more dazzling given that the film sells about the same number of tickets internationally as on this continent. (The last two fast furious installments, on the other hand, did about three-quarters of their business outside of the United States and Canada.) All this despite the film being banned from theatrical release in the major cinema markets of China and Russia.

Currently the fourth highest-grossing film ever released by Paramount, however, maverick still has another ball to hit with a ball. If it stays in theaters until the fall, there’s a good chance Top Gun 2 could topple the $659 million domestic box office record long held by 1997 films Titanic as the greatest film in the studio’s 110-year history. Although the epic, catastrophic Oscar-winning romance still tops the fighter pilot sequel with over $2.2 billion in worldwide grossing, maverick has already garnered $525 million in ticket sales in North America. And after returning to IMAX theaters last week by popular demand (having been hit by the allegedly less critical and commercially well-received blockbusters Jurassic World: Dominion and Light year), Paramount gives no indication that it plans to pull the ripcord maverickit is out in theaters soon.

“It’s rare to get the special kind of chemistry that creates a true event film,” Paramount CEO Brian Robbins said in a statement. “We have been absolutely blown away by the global response to Top Gun: Maverick.

Paramount has yet to announce when the film will be released on Paramount+, though it is expected to land there eventually. The studio typically grants its films 45 days of theatrical exclusivity, which means the film won’t be available to stream until at least mid-July. His race to beat TitanicThe record could delay that considerably.

“The first one Superior gun played for nearly a year in theaters,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “It was obviously a much different time, when movies were released in far fewer theaters and didn’t deal with streaming and the different dynamics of the modern film market. But I think, clearly, this is a movie that’s going to go against tradition by having the legs that movies enjoyed in the ’80s.”

In an unusually terse tweet on Monday, Cruise expressed his gratitude for maverickwelcoming the hero while more generally hosting cheerleading theatrical films.

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