Forget breaking the sound barrier: Tom Cruise has just passed a milestone in his career.
The 59-year-old superstar just made his first $100 million opening weekend with Top Gun: Maverick. Paramount Pictures said Sunday that the long-in-development sequel made about $124 million in ticket sales in its first three days in North American theaters. Including international screenings, its worldwide total is $248 million.
It’s a supersonic start for a film that still has the skies of Memorial Day itself wide open to make even more money. Top Gun: Maverick is likely to have over $150 million by Monday’s close, according to projections and estimates.
“These results are ludicrous, fantastic,” said Chris Aronson, Paramount’s president of domestic distribution. “I’m happy for everyone. I’m happy for the company, for Tom, for the filmmakers.”
While Cruise is undeniably one of the biggest stars in the world – perhaps even “the last movie star” according to various headlines – Cruise is not known for massive blockbuster openings.
Prior to Maverick, his biggest domestic debut came in 2005 with Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, which grossed $64 million. This was followed by Mission: Impossible – Fallout with $61 million in 2018. It’s not that his films don’t make money in the long run: they just don’t get huge initial commissions.
Top Gun: Maverick has come a very long way to hit theaters. The late Tony Scott’s 1986 sequel, Top Gun, was originally slated for a summer 2020 release. Technically, his marketing campaign started back in July 2019. However, the pandemic thwarted those plans. and it has been delayed several times. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and co-produced and financed by Skydance, the sequel reportedly cost $152 million to make.
But even as the months and years rolled by and many other companies compromised on hybrid releases, Cruise and Paramount didn’t waver in their desire for a major theatrical release. A streaming debut was simply not possible.
“This should never have happened,” Cruz said at Cannes.
And it’s a big deal: Top Gun: Maverick is shown in 4,735 theaters in North America (a record). It also opened in 23,600 locations in 62 international markets.
“This is one of the longest runways for any movie’s marketing campaign. And that only added to the buzz around the film,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “This movie was literally waiting for the theater to return.”
The build-up was just as lavish, with fighter jet-decorated premieres on an aircraft carrier in San Diego and at the Cannes Film Festival, where Cruise also received an honorary Palme d’Or, and a royal premiere in London attended by Prince William and his wife Kate.
“The feeling you get when you watch this film with an audience is very special,” Aronson said. “At the first big screening we had, there was spontaneous applause during the film.”
Reviews were also stellar, with the film scoring a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. According to exit polls, the audience, 58% of whom were men, gave the film a five CinemaScore.
In the new film, Cruise reprises the role of Maverick, who returns to an elite aviation training program to train the next generation of airmen, including Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Greg Tarzan Davis, Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman and Jay Ellis. Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Val Kilmer, reprising their role from the original, also star.
“It reinforces the idea that the cinema is the only and vital outlet for people,” Dergarabedyan said. “People are looking for a great way to get away from everything that’s going on in the world right now.”
Maverick is now among the most popular pandemic-era debuts, still leading Spider-Man: No Way Home at $260 million, followed by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at $187 million and Batman at $187 million. 134 million dollars. .
Notably, Top Gun: Maverick is the only non-superhero film. It also attracted a wide range of age groups to the theatre. An estimated 55% of the audience was over 35 years of age.
“Superhero movies are not for everyone. This movie is for everyone and that’s what sets it apart from others,” Aronson said. “The theater and exhibition business will face challenges, but this is a good opportunity.”
The Bob’s Burgers Movie was the only new release that dared to compete with Top Gun. The animated film, released by 20th Century Studios and Disney, earned $12.6 million from 3,425 locations. It opened in third place behind Doctor Strange 2, which earned $16.4 million in its fourth weekend in theaters.
Top Gun will continue to rule the sky until Jurassic World: Dominion releases on June 10th.
“He has a really good open market to play with,” Dergarabedyan said. “Tom Cruise has always strived for consistency. His films are about the marathon. This is his first film to hit the box office. Here he gets a sprint and a marathon.”
Estimated Friday through Sunday ticket sales in US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final internal data will be published on Tuesday.
1. Top Gun: Maverick, $124 million
2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, $16.4 million
3. Bob’s Burgers at the Movies, $12.6 million
4. Downton Abbey: A New Era, $5.9 million
5. Bad Boys, $4.6 million
6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2, $2.5 million
7. Everything, Everywhere, $2.5 million
8. The Lost City, $1.8 million
9. Men, $1.2 million
10. F3: Fun and Frustration, $1 million
Follow AP Film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr