- Top Gun: Maverick finally hits theaters this weekend after several delays.
- Cinema industry leaders are optimistic that it can attract older moviegoers.
- Analysts expect the film to earn close to or over $100 million over the three-day weekend.
Top Gun was the highest-grossing film of 1986, grossing $174 million in the United States, which is $460 million in today’s dollars.
This weekend, the long-awaited big-budget movie sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, finally hits theaters after multiple delays caused by the pandemic. And with the largest US release of all time in 4,735 theaters.
Paramount, the film’s distributor (which was co-produced and co-financed by Skydance), has given its other films this year, like The Lost City and Scream, exclusive cinema windows for 45 days before they arrive in theaters
Paramount+ service. It’s shorter than the typical pre-pandemic window of 75 to 90 days, but is becoming a new industry standard.
However, “Maverick” is getting a longer window than 45 days, a person familiar with Paramount’s plans told Insider.
Still, in a theatrical market dominated by superhero blockbusters, Maverick isn’t expected to top the box office in 2022 like its predecessor did 36 years ago.
Nevertheless, the film has a lot to offer.
Moviegoers aged 45+ have been slow to return to cinemas, and cinema leaders are hoping Maverick will draw them in droves.
“‘Maverick’ is a perfect, stimulating, fun film with an audience that grew up watching Tom Cruise and ‘Top Gun,'” Rolando Rodriguez, CEO of Marcus Theaters and chairman of the National Association of Theater Owners, told Insider’s monthly exhibitors conference CinemaCon. “If I had to pick one film, I’d say it’s this one that could really break through with a consumer base that we want back.”
Rich Gelfond, CEO of film technology company Imax, which specializes in advanced cameras and projection systems, thinks Maverick is better than the first Top Gun.
“I know that’s a bold statement because the original is so iconic, but it’s the kind of story where when you see it, you get the original and you take it to a new place,” Gelfond said on the CinemaCon. “But it also stands on its own if you’ve never seen the original.”
Box office experts believe Top Gun: Maverick can bring Gen Xers and Baby Boomers back to theaters
Checkout experts are also confident.
Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro, is forecasting a three-day open of $130 million and $156 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend.
“As a film that could bring many Generation Xers and Baby Boomers back to theaters for one of their – if not their first – trips back to cinemas since 2019, the sequel to ‘Top Gun’ models near or above where it once was, when it was being followed and the marketing started nearly three years ago,” Robbins wrote.
Others were more conservative in their estimates but still optimistic. Bruce Nash, founder of box office analysis website The Numbers, is forecasting $92 million for the three-day weekend.
Either way, it would be the biggest theatrical release of his career for star Tom Cruise, who helmed 2005’s War of the Worlds, which grossed $65 million in its first weekend. The first “Top Gun” made $8 million ($21 million after inflation) when it debuted.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, noted that almost half of the viewers who watched Downton Abbey: A New Era premiere this past weekend were 55 or older.
The film underperformed compared to the first Downton Abbey film of 2019 – $16 million in its opening weekend compared to $31 million. But Dergarabedian said it’s still a sign of this age group’s growing interest in returning to theaters for the right movie.
“Momentum builds momentum,” he said.
But he also said, “The mature demographic might not rush to the movies on their first weekend. They show their excitement in other ways.”
Last year’s James Bond film No Time To Die might be a better comparison. The Bond franchise is typically older, and the film made a decent, but not exceptional, $55 million in its opening weekend. It then grossed $160 million in the US after showing strong legs during its theatrical run (and $774 million worldwide).
With a sizeable box office window, Maverick could hold onto the box office for the duration of the summer movie season if word of mouth is strong enough.
“Maverick” has received near-universal acclaim and a critics’ rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Indiewire’s David Ehrlich called it a “confidently ecstatic, emotionally immersive, mind-blowing time at the cinema.”