After two years of being grounded by the coronavirus pandemic, Top Gun: Maverick is finally flying into theaters over Memorial Day weekend following a headline-grabbing, global marketing blitz that saw a tireless Tom Cruise transform into the showman of the moment as he made stops at a world premiere in San Diego, the Cannes Film Festival, a Royal-sponsored screening in London and another premiere in Japan.
The release of the long-awaited sequel to the iconic 1986 movie is poised to be a defining moment for the box office recovery, which so far has been largely fueled by superhero fare.
Top Gun 2 is easily headed for the biggest opening of Tom Cruise’s career at the domestic box office, with a four-day gross of at least $92 million, according to official tracking. And that’s a conservative estimate. 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 are especially bullish on the pic, and are even thinking $125 million-plus.
Part of the problem in this instance: there’s no way of knowing whether older consumers will set aside their caution and rush out to see the $170 million-plus movie on the first weekend. And while Top Gun 2 certainly hopes to play to younger audiences, it is nevertheless a follow-up to a 36-year-old property.