Top Gun: Maverick Setting Records

Mild spoilers ahead.

CBR (“Top Gun: Maverick Sets a Major Record No Marvel Film Has Been Able to Achieve“):

Top Gun: Maverick, Paramount Pictures’ sequel to the original 1986 Top Gun, has crossed a milestone at the domestic box office that no Marvel Studios movie has been able to achieve.

According to box office analyst Gitesh Pandya on Twitter, Top Gun: Maverick earned $44 million at the domestic box office in its fourth weekend in theaters. Only three other movies in box office history have earned more than $40 million in their fourth weekends in theaters, including Avatar ($50.3 million), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (42.4 million) and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther ($40.8 million). These earnings also make Top Gun: Maverick the second highest-earning fourth weekend in theaters of all time, just behind 2010’s Avatar. Overall, Maverick boasts a domestic box office cume of $466.2 million.

Along with being ahead of The Force Awakens and Black Panther, Maverick also earned more than most Marvel Studios movies in its fourth weekend, including Avengers ($36.7 million), Spider-Man: No Way Home ($32.8 million), Avengers: Endgame ($30.0 million) and Avengers: Infinity War ($29.5 million). According to Pandya, other major franchises like every Marvel, Star Wars, Jurassic and Batman film earned less at the box office in their fourth weekends in theaters.

Top Gun: Maverick earned $160.5 million within its first four days of release after opening on Memorial Day weekend, setting new holiday weekend records and becoming Cruise’s highest-earning opening in North America. Maverick became the highest-grossing movie of 2022 in the United States when it crossed the $400 million mark, surpassing Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which earned $398 million domestically. With a global box office haul of $783.8 million, Maverick has not crossed the worldwide total for Multiverse of Madness. However, industry analysts also project that Cruise’s legacy sequel could cross the $1 billion mark before the end of its theatrical run.

The usual caveats apply: it’s really hard to compare apples to apples given that ticket prices have steadily increased and more recent movies have expensive variants (IMAX, Screen X, 3D, etc.) that further inflate the box office take.

Cruise insisted that this movie’s release be delayed—and delayed and delayed—until it could be shown to packed theaters and enjoyed in the way the filmmakers—himself included—intended. The bet clearly paid off.

Indeed, this is the first movie that I’ve seen in a theater since the pandemic. We finally watched it yesterday afternoon. The combination of not wanting to fight massive crowds, a busy end-of-school-year schedule, a need to screen the original 1986 film for the girls, and a week’s vacation in the Outer Banks delayed the viewing experience enough that I was aware of the hype surrounding the film. It didn’t disappoint.

Both professional critics and various friends had proclaimed this better than the original, a rare feat, indeed, for a sequel, let alone one spread out so far from the first. In many ways, it was: the character arc made more sense, the action scenes were far superior, and even the romantic chemistry between Cruise and the female lead was better. Then again, it’s an unfair comparison, in that so much of the movie is fan service. This film is designed to finish a story from almost forty years ago, so the audience came in already invested in the characters and well steeped in the backstory.

As with the original, one needs to suspend belief many times. If the film is set in 2022 (or even 2018-19, when most of it was filmed) the ages make little sense. Aside from the much-commented-upon fact that Maverick is far too old to still be in the Navy (captains are almost always required to retire at the 30-year mark and he would have something like 40 years in since he was a lieutenant in 1986), Goose’s son would be something like 40 and Penny Benjamin would have been in her teens at the time the 20-something Maverick met her. Maverick continues to be a badass but, alas, would almost surely have been kicked out of the Navy multiple times by now, if not in the brig, for his constant destruction of his aircraft and disobeying of lawful orders. The central combat mission makes for fantastic movie drama—and, again, it’s way more compelling than the original’s—but none of the execution makes any sense at all. And don’t even get me started on the admirals whose top ribbon is a Bronze Star and the fact that almost all of the senior officers have Purple Hearts, which would be odd, indeed, for Marine infantrymen, let alone fighter pilots.

Despite the format having been around for more than a decade now, this is the first film I’d seen in “Screen X.” Our cineplex isn’t designed to maximize the experience, so the surround projection was interrupted by stark lines where the front of the theater met the two square sides. And there were exit doors in the way of the projection. Still, while I think I prefer IMAX, the huge screen and occasional wrap for action scenes was really interesting.

The film does a great job of bookending the Maverick-Iceman rivalry/bromance and Miles Teller is well cast as Goose’s son, now a Top Gun graduate in his own right. Again, the actors who played him were 4 in 1986 so he should be 40 now. And even a four-year delay in getting into the Naval Academy (another plot point that makes little sense but which sets up the necessary tension) wouldn’t still have him as a junior lieutenant. Still, getting closure on the biggest emotional plot point from the original was satisfying.

Overall, an excellent movie and one well worth seeing in a theater rather than waiting for it to come streaming on Paramount+.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Popular Culture, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Glad you and your family enjoyed it.

    And don’t even get me started on the admirals whose top ribbon is a Bronze Star and the fact that almost all of the senior officers have Purple Hearts, which would be odd, indeed, for Marine infantrymen, let alone fighter pilots.

    Count on the probability that you are the only person in the audience who recognized what any of those ribbons signify. A long standing feature of one of the old editorial cartoonists (late 60s and on) was picturing Soviet/Military strongman figures bedecked with ribbons and medals on their jackets–several of which were soda pop and beer bottle caps (the fluted-edge type that you need a bottle opener for).

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m not sure I’ll ever go to a movie theater again. Too many down-sides to theaters (driving, parking, waiting in lines for shitty overpriced food, talkers, munchers, ear-shattering volumes, forced commercial-watching) and too many advantages to watching at home, (the pause button, greater comfort, better food, no lines, no commute, and just the familiar irritating people)

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  3. Kathy says:

    If the film is set in 2022 (or even 2018-19, when most of it was filmed) the ages make little sense.

    Well, look at some of the Star Wars sequels to the original trilogy.

    This goes a long way back. Take the Trojan War myths. The start can be seen as the wedding between Achilles’ parents, Peleus and Thetis, where Eris throws the infamous golden apple at those therein gathered to celebrate. Paris settles the conflict* the apple created between Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite a short time later.

    What happens then**, from the abduction of Helen to the siege of Troy, would make Achilles awfully young to 1) fight in the war (never mind fight ten years in the war), and 2) have a teenage son, Neoptolemus, who shows up after the events of the Iliad.

    *Yes, the war thereafter and the actions of the various gods suggest the conflict was not settled.

    **Including the newborns Thetis drowned right after giving birth to them.

  4. EddieInCA says:

    I only have one criteria for films in a movie theatre:

    Was I entertained?

    Maverick? 100%.

    I loved the film. Full stop.

    I’ve had a crush and Jennifer Connelly since I met her briefly some 20+ years ago.

    Go see the movie. You won’t be disappointed.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: This is true of pretty much any genre but special effects-heavy flicks. Dogfights and superhero battles are definitely enhanced on the big screen. And I’m fortunate to have a rather high end standalone theater in the basement courtesy of the previous owner.

    @EddieInCA: Yes, that’s ultimately right. And Connelly is pretty spectacular. Kelly McGillis was gorgeous in her prime but Connelly is amazing for 51 (or even the 48 or so when it was filmed) and exudes charm and intellect.

  6. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve a number of theaters within 5 kilometers, including many premium ones. I’ve learned to go at times when I’m not hungry, so I don’t need to get popcorn or anything else (even with seat side service in the premium ones). Since intermissions were eliminated, I don’t order anything to drink either, as I can’t sit through a whole 2+ hour movie after downing a large soda or even a cappuccino*. The premium theaters I frequent and the times I chose, means few people even show up (one time I was all alone while watching Aquaman). And reserved seats means I can go into the theater after the commercials and previews are mostly done (say 10 minutes after announced showtime).

    I like the pause function on streaming. It’s great when you want to see what happens next and are bored with the movie. You can pause and do something else to clear your mind in the meantime.

    Right now, my only problem with theaters is COVID. I won’t seat indoors 2+ hours with other people while the trump virus remains in active circulation.

    3
  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Is there an analogue for the infamous homo-erotic volleyball scene???

  8. Bnut says:

    I have not seen it because apparently IMAX and other special screens like 4DX only have 2 weeks runs for major movies and I missed my window. Gotta cut it short for the 17th lame Jurassic Park sequel. It’s the first movie I have wanted to see in theaters since Tenant. There may be a re-release at some point, but I don’t feel the need to watch it streaming for a plot. I want the sight and sound of this one. I am actually quite disappointed I may actually never get the chance to see it as it was intended to be.

  9. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “I’ve had a crush and Jennifer Connelly since I met her briefly some 20+ years ago”

    Which is truly exceptional, because one generally has a crush on actresses UNTIL one meets them…

    1
  10. EddieInCA says:

    @wr:

    That happened to me with Farrah Fawcett. Not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but she was not a nice woman.

    As for Mrs. Bettany (Jennifer Connelly), the day after I met her in NYC, I was walking down Broadway, and I saw her walking toward me on the sidewalk. Having just met her the previous day, I so wanted to talk to her some more…, but I could tell she was just out shopping, walking, enjoying the streets of NYC and the last thing she needed was some weirdo chatting her up. Right then, she saw me looking at her, and I recognized that she recognized me. She gave ma a slight nod, tiny wave, and smile. I did the same, and we walked right past each other.

    It was a good day.

    4
  11. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “Not supposed to speak ill of the dead,”

    In the entertainment industry? Where’s the real Eddie and what have you done with him?

    4
  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Haven’t been to a theater since I left Korea. (I acquired an allergy to paying $12+/ticket when I got back here for some reason; and based on what people are telling me about ticket prices…) Then again, I don’t recall having watched a movie since the last time I was on an airplane, either. Don’t watch them at home. I think it’s a short-attention-span thing for me.

    I do watch movies on flights–what else am I going to do with 10-12 hours considering that sleep apnea makes it difficult to sleep on a plane? I always tell Luddite that I’m grateful for “not having spent money to watch X” when I come back even though the plane ticket was several hundred dollars. It’s not the same thing though.

  13. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy:

    Fully vaxed I don’t fear COVID. Stems from something my doc said when I tested positive and got a mild symptom case. He said that it had a bright side, that with an immune system not only vaxed, but re-“vaxed” by killing off the real thing, I was, in a way, super-vaccinated. Immune system as primed to fight the bug as it possibly could be.

    2
  14. Kathy says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I heard the same from my covidiot boss. His pneumologist (whom I just happen to know), allegedly told him the vaccination after recovery was like Capt. America’s shield or something like that.

    I’ve had two of Pfizer and tow of AZ. I’m still wearing a mask everywhere but at home.

    2
  15. Barry says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: “Is there an analogue for the infamous homo-erotic volleyball scene???”

    You mean the scene that male critics think is homoerotic?