Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun 2’ Soars to Record $151M Opening

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In a promising sign for the summer season, Paramount and Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick scored the second-best Memorial Day opening of all time with a projected three-day domestic haul of $124 million and $151 million for the four days. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End remains the record holder for now with a treasure chest of $153 million, according to Disney. (There’s been confusion all weekend about which film holds the record. And if Top Gun overpeformers on Sunday, it could still claim the spoils.)Maverick‘s launch is without a doubt a career best for Tom Cruise, and is the first time he has had a film open to $100 million or more.Top Gun 2 started off with a massive $51.8 million on Friday — including $19.3 million in previews — as it opened in more than 4,700 theaters in North America.

Overseas, Top Gun 2 is doing equally impressive business, considering it isn’t playing in either China or Russia. The film opened to $124 million from 62 markets for an early global haul of $248 million through Sunday. The movie marked Cruise’s top opening weekend ever in 32 markets and Paramount’s biggest live-action bow in 18, led by  the U.K. ($19.4 million) and followed by France ($11.7 million) and

Australia ($10.7 million). Top Gun 2 lands in South Korea next month.

The release of the long-awaited sequel to the iconic 1986 movie is a defining moment for box office recovery, which so far has been largely fueled by superhero fare propped up by males ages 18 to 34.

More than 70 percent of Top Gun 2‘s  audience was over the age of 25, including 55 percent over age 35, 38 percent over 45 and 18 percent over 55. Ticket buyers bestowed the film with a glowing A+ CinemaScore. And Imax and premium-format screens turned in a whopping 37 percent of the gross. Imax alone turned in a four-day Memorial Day record gross of $32.5 million, including $21 million in North America, and prompting CEO Richard Gelfond to gush in a statement: “If you thought movies were dead, go see Top Gun: Maverick and then let me know what you think. This film heralds the return of the summer blockbuster and is a catalyst that will accelerate demand for moviegoing like an F-18 breaking the sound barrier.” (Some of the film was shot with Imax cameras.)

Heading into the holiday weekend, Paramount tried to temper expectations, since tracking showed the film opening to $92 million-plus. Yet 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 were especially bullish on the pic and were already thinking it could hit $125 million to $150 million.

The film’s release was delayed for 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.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick sees Cruise return 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 onetime 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 released 20th 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, posted a subdued three-day tally of $12.6 million and $15.7 million for the four.

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