It took 34 years plus an additional two due to a global pandemic, but Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is flying high again at the box office. For all the (rightful) talk of the original Top Gun being a militaristic recruiting tool glossed up with a killer soundtrack, critics have more than let down their guard on the sequel and have been singing its praises since its first showing at CinemaCon last month. One of the most positively-reviewed movies of the year could not even be slowed down by the Cruise ceiling, which he crashed through like Chuck Yeager with ten times the mach.
(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)
Despite being labeled as one of the last true movie stars, Tom Cruise has nevertheless had a ceiling at the box office. In fairness, that ceiling is connected with the new normal of franchises attracting bigger and better records, and we are still talking about a five-decade headliner whose string of distinctly non-franchise $100 million grossers is only comparable to Tom Hanks at the time and, later, Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler. Now there’s a list. Yet Cruise has only had six movies open higher than $40 million and five of them are Mission: Impossible films. Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds has remained his best opening ($64.8 million) and highest grossing film ($234.2 million) since 2005. One of those changed this weekend and the other will fall soon.
All of those films (including five of the six M:I films) are Cruise’s top grossing titles. Right below them is 1986’s Top Gun at $176.7 million (not counting re-releases), which, adjusted for inflation, is the star’s best ticket seller at over $466 million. Top Gun: Maverick – launched in the most theaters ever at 4,735 – pulled in $51.8 million just on Thursday and Friday and is projected over the holiday weekend for a 3-day gross of $126.7 million and a 4-day of $156 million. Not only did that double-up-and-then-some Cruise’s top opener, but the sequel now ranks as the best Memorial Day opener of all time, besting Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’s $139.8 million from 2007 ($153 million, adding in its Thursday previews.) The end of the Verbinski trilogy also ended up the lowest-grossing May release (not named X-Men: The Last Stand) to open with $100 million, finishing with $309 million. Cruise had a ceiling; now he is hoping that is his floor with this one.
Top Gun: Maverick also joins a select list of sequels that appeared 10 years after the last series entry to open with over $100 million. Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($247.9 million), Jurassic World ($208.8 million), Incredibles 2 ($182.6 million), Finding Dory ($135 million), Top Gun: Maverick ($126.7 million), Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($100.1 million) all now have company at the top. Only 14 films that soared to higher than $110 million have achieved three times their opening. Now the 64th film to reach $100 million in its opening weekend, Top Gun: Maverick, is likely to remain in the top five through July 4, when Paramount can re-rah-rah the film all over again as America celebrates its Declaration of Independence from a named adversary (unlike the film, which no doubt helps to make its $275 million internationally.) Critics are also doing that by collectively giving the film a 96%, which is the best Tomatometer score among all live-action wide releases in 2022.
(Photo by Marvel Entertainment)
Last week the needle shifted back towards Marvel’s Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness achieving its goal of $400 million, and it continues to tick that way. With another $16.4 million this weekend and $20.5 million through the holiday, the film has upped its total to over $374.9 million after 24 days. That puts the film right in line with both Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3, and if it can manage anywhere over $9 million next weekend it should be headed for somewhere over $415 million. Given there is nothing likely to challenge the perch of this and Top Gun from the 1-2 slots, that seems very achievable. As of this weekend, the film also passed The Batman’s $369 million to become the highest-grossing title of 2022 to date. Unless Jurassic World: Dominion or Thor: Love and Thunder are able to challenge it this summer, its final total could keep it on top until possibly Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water are released near the end of the yar.
One of the other final pandemic holdovers, 20th Century Studios’ The Bob’s Burgers Movie, finally got its time in theaters and it opened to $12.6 million and $14.8 million estimated through Monday. There were certainly no expectations this was going to rise to The Simpsons Movie’s $74 million start. Compared to other animated TV shows that skewed a little older with a “PG-13” rating or higher, this was not as strong as Beavis and Butt-Head Do America’s $20.1 million start in 1996 and just a little better than South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut’s $11.3 million opening from 1999 (or $37 million and $19.6 million with inflation). Those films finished with $63 million and $52 million, respectively ($116 million and $90 million with inflation.) Bob is going to need a 4.12 multiple from this weekend to best South Park, a number achieved just once this year to films opening higher than $10 million, and that was Dog.
(Photo by Focus Features)
As for the other television-to-big-screen-adaptation, Downton Abbey: A New Era fell to just $5.9 million over the weekend and $7.5 million for the holiday. That puts the film at about $28.5 million through 10 days. Among the May releases to earn between $27.5-$29.5 million in that timeframe, Downton’s $5.9 million is the lowest second weekend among them. None of those films released since 2009 reached $47 million either, so its finishing point seems likely to end up somewhere between $40-45 million. Meanwhile, families continue to line the pockets of The Bad Guys. $6.2 million through the holiday brings its total to nearly $83 million. Last week it appeared that $90 million was in the cards for the animated film; now it looks as if it will be closer to $95 million with another two weekends all to itself before Lightyear opens on June 17.
Paramount is clearly riding high with those Top Gun numbers, but those are part of an even more substantial achievement for the studio. First up, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 just dropped out of the top five after seven weeks and has brought its total up to over $185 million domestic and $380 million worldwide. Next, this is the weekend that The Lost City finally got itself over the $100 million mark after 64 days and 10 weeks in the top 10. Combined with Top Gun, this is the first time since 2018 that Paramount has had three $100 million grossers in a calendar year. It is also the first time since 2013 that they completed the hat trick with three releases in a row (as they previously did with Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, Bad Grandpa). That is likely as far as the streak will go unless Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank turns out to be a surprise family hit in July.
Speaking of streaks, A24 continues to watch the success story that is Everything Everywhere All At Once. Now in its ninth straight week in the top 10 (including a week when it was only in 38 theaters), the Daniels’ film has only dropped more than 20% once during that time, including this weekend, when it pulled in another $3.2 million for a total over $57 million. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Alex Garland’s Men, which is poised to become their first film launched in over 2,000 theaters not to reach $10 million. Garland’s previous film for A24, Ex Machina, grossed $25.4 million, and his last film for Paramount, Annihilation, grossed $32.7 million. Seems people have just had enough of Men.
(Photo by ©Neon)
Either sensing the impending draw for Top Gun: Maverick or the Hollywood brass still tying to fill the gaps in the theatrical schedule, the biggest release next week was only recently put into play. David Cronenberg’s first film in eight years and first body-themed tale since 1999’s eXistenZ is opening in theaters only. Neon is releasing Crimes of the Future with Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart. The indie studio has not had a film reach $10 million since their Oscar-winning Parasite. Will there be enough Cronenberg fans buying tickets next week? Also in limited release look for Terence Davies’ new film Benediction, the golf drama The Phantom of the Open with Mark Rylance, and Chloe Okuno’s stalker thriller Watcher with Maika Monroe believing she is being followed again.
F3: Fun and Frustration
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]