Cannes (27/05 – 33.33) Top Gun: Maverick, the forthcoming sequel to the 1980s classic Top Gun, is expected to pull in more than $100 million in the U.S. this weekend in what could be a record for Memorial Day weekend.
It also represents a potential turning point for Hollywood—and the American economy—after Paramount Pictures delayed the potential blockbuster several times during the pandemic.
Top Gun: Maverick was initially set to open all the way back in July 2019, before the shooting of additional action sequences pushed it back to June 2020, Deadline reported. That being the height of pandemic lockdown, when theaters were empty worldwide, Paramount delayed it several more times—to December 2020, July 2021, and November 2021—before arriving at the current release date.
“Expectations are high,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, told Yahoo Finance. “At this point, even the most conservative numbers for Top Gun just don’t feel like they’re enough. This very much feels like a ‘welcome back to the movies’ type of experience.”
Box Office Pro predicted the movie would bring in $120 million to $145 million over the three-day weekend, and $143 million to $177 million over four days, Yahoo Finance reported.
The record for highest-grossing Memorial Day weekend release is 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which earned nearly $115 million and $140 million over three and four days, respectively, according to Yahoo Finance.
If this projection holds up, it would also be Tom Cruise’s first-ever $100 million opening.
Filmmakers paid upwards of $11,000 an hour to use the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornets for the movie, Bloomberg reported, adding that Tom Cruise wasn’t allowed to touch the controls.
Top Gun, released in 1986, grossed nearly $360 million in total. It opened the weekend before Memorial Day and brought in $8.1 million—$21.6 million in today’s money, according to thewrap.com.
The biggest opening of 2022 to date is Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness, which grossed an estimated $185 million in ticket sales in its first weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters, parent company Walt Disney Co. said.
The movie business has suffered throughout the pandemic, and its successes have been top-heavy, with big hits crowding out smaller fare. The opening weekend of Doctor Strange, for example, saw Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys in second place with an estimated $9.8 million.