Forget breaking the sound barrier: Tom Cruise just flew past a major career milestone.
The 59-year-old superstar just got his first $100 million opening weekend with “Top Gun: Maverick.”
In first three days in North American theaters, the long-in-the-works sequel sold an estimated $124 million in ticket sales, Paramount Pictures said Sunday. Worldwide, the film has earned $248 million.
It’s a supersonic start for a film that still has the wide-open skies of Memorial Day itself to rake in even more cash. According to projections and estimates, “Top Gun: Maverick” will likely top $150 million by end of Monday.
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Cruise, though undeniably one of the biggest stars in the world – perhaps even “the last movie star,” according to various headlines – is not known for blockbuster openings.
Before “Maverick,” his biggest domestic debut was in 2005, with Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” which opened to $64 million. After that it was “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” with $61 million in 2018. It’s not that his films don’t make money in the long run: They just aren’t enormously frontloaded.
The sequel to the late Tony Scott’s “Top Gun,” which was released in 1986, was originally slated to open in the summer of 2020. The pandemic got in the way of that and it was delayed several times. Directed by Joseph Kosinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the sequel reportedly cost $152 million to make.
But even as the months, and years, went by and many other companies chose to compromise on hybrid releases, Cruise and Paramount didn’t waver on their desire to have a major theatrical release. A streaming debut was simply not an option.
“That was never going to happen,” Cruise said at Cannes Film Festival, where the film had a splashy red carpet screening.
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And it is major, with 4,735 North American theaters (a record) showing “Top Gun: Maverick.” It also opened in 23,600 locations in 62 international markets. The build up has been just as high profile, with fighter jet-adorned premieres on an aircraft carrier in San Diego and at Cannes, where Cruise was also given an honorary Palme d’Or, and a royal premiere in London attended by Prince William and Duchess Kate.
The new film has Cruise reprising the role of Maverick, who returns to the elite aviation training program to train the next generation of flyers, 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 his role from the original, also star.
“Maverick” is now among the top pandemic-era openings, still led by “Spider-Man: No Way Home” with $260 million, followed by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” with $187 million and “The Batman” with $134 million.
Final numbers are expected Tuesday.