Audiences have not lost the need for speed, even 36 years after the original Top Gun.

Buoyed by strong reviews, Top Gun: Maverick dominated the weekend box office over Memorial Day. According to estimates, the movie is expected to gross $124 million from Friday to Sunday, and $151 million total across the entire Memorial Day Weekend. That’s good enough for the best opening weekend of star and producer Tom Cruise’s entire career — and the second-best Memorial Day weekend opening ever behind Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (which made $153 million from Friday to Monday on Memorial Day in 2007).

For Cruise, it’s his biggest opening weekend ever by a massive margin. His next best debut came in 2005’s War of the Worlds, which opened with $64.8 million. Not far behind that was Mission: Impossible — Fallout (the sixth and most recent film in that franchise) which earned $61.2 in its theatrical debut back in 2018. The original Top Gun, for point of comparison, made just $8.1 million in its opening weekend back in 1986, although it was only playing in about 1,500 theaters compared to Maverick’s 4,700. Top Gun still went on to become the biggest movie of 1986, grossing $180.4 million — the equivalent of $475 million when you adjust that number for inflation.


For Paramount, the huge opening weekend is a validation of their decision to keep Top Gun: Maverick on the shelf for two years while they waited for theaters to fully reopen following the worst of the Covid pandemic. The movie’s massive set pieces and impressive aerial combat sequences were clearly designed to be seen on a big screen. It wouldn’t have made anywhere near the same impact playing on Paramount+ or some other streaming service. Whether it was the promise of those mind-boggling visuals, or the appeal of seeing Tom Cruise finally back in one of his signature roles, audiences showed up in big numbers for the film.

In another box office note: By the end of the weekend Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will have passed The Batman to be the top-grossing movie in the U.S. in 2022 with $375 million in ticket sales to date.

Top Gun Easter Eggs in Top Gun: Maverick

Did you catch these callbacks to the original Top Gun in the sequel?

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