Superheroes and horror aren’t the only game in town anymore at the box office.
Paramount and Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick grossed a massive $ 51.8 million Friday – including $ 19.3 million in previews – as it opened in more than 4,700 theaters in North America.
That puts the Tom Cruise movie on course to score the best Memorial Day opening of all time with a projected three-day domestic haul of $ 123 million and $ 150 million for the four days. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is the current record holder at $ 139 million, according to Comscore. Maverick‘s launch will also be a career best for Tom Cruise as predicted by THR earlier this week.
Overseas, Top Gun 2 is doing equally impressive business, considering it isn’t playing in either China or Russia. The film grossed $ 24.5 million Friday for an early three-day total of $ 64.7 million. The UK led with $ 4 million to mark the highest opening day for a Cruise film and also for a live-action Paramount release. Japan followed with $ 2.6 million.
The release of the long-awaited sequel to the iconic 1986 movie is poised to be 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.
Nearly 90 percent of Top Gun 2‘s Friday audience was over the age of 25, including 67 percent over age 35, 45 percent over 45 and 21 percent over 55. Ticket buyers bestowed the film with a glowing A + CinemaScore.
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 steed 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 returns Cruise 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 counterprogramming, Disney is releasing 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, earned a better-than-expected $ 5.7 million Friday for a possible opening of $ 19 million-plus.
May 28, 8:15 am: Updated with revised numbers.