It’s been nearly four decades since the release of Top Gun, but audiences remain thrilled with the adrenaline-fueled fighter jet battles and sky-high hijinks introduced by Tony Scott’s 1986 classic and are craving them more than ever. Evidence of that comes by way of Top Gun: Maverick’s opening performance, which has stunned even the most optimistic industry insiders with an expected haul of $150 million in just four days. This is not only the best opening ever stateside for franchise star Tom Cruise, who returns in the sequel as daredevil pilot and instructor Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, but also for the film’s director, Joseph Kosinski. The previous four-day Memorial Day weekend opening records were held by 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($139.8M) and 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($126.9M). Top Gun: Maverick is expected to have long legs thanks to its excellent reviews; the movie is currently listed at Rotten Tomatoes with an extremely positive 97% Tomatometer score and 99% audience score.
What the hell was going on? Sources say Box Office Mojo incorrectly counted $13.2M in previews twice for the first day of At World’s End (so the four-day gross isn’t really $153M). Meanwhile, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened on a Thursday, so it’s technically designated as a five-day opener, and it made $151.9M over that span of time. I betcha Top Gun 2 beats that sum in four days as well. There’s just too much momentum here, especially coming off that rare A+ CinemaScore; a grade that bests the 1986 first installment’s A.
What’s happening here? Why so much success? Sequels to legacy movies work, even if the IP is 36 years old, and audiences have been yearning to see the further aerial adventures of Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Is there a Risky Business sequel that’s been kicking around? And old people are certainly going here to Top Gun 2 in great numbers, with 45% over 45, 21% over 55.