‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Could Become Paramount’s Biggest Hit in a Decade

·3 min read

It was a year ago that Paramount jolted the early stages of the COVID box office rebuilding process with “A Quiet Place — Part II.” This Memorial Day weekend, it is set to do it again with Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” a film that could become the studio’s biggest box office hit since the heyday of the “Transformers” franchise a decade ago.

As that Hasbro series saw its numbers decline in the latter half of the 2010s, Paramount became more reliant on Tom Cruise and his “Mission: Impossible” films to deliver the big bucks while the studio developed new franchises like “A Quiet Place” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Since 2015, the only Paramount release to top both $200 million domestic and $500 million worldwide was “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” in 2018, also giving Cruise his highest opening weekend with $61 million.

But “Top Gun: Maverick” could blow by all those records. While the film is projected to easily surpass the opening of “M:I — Fallout” with a four-day opening of at least $90 million, it could also be the first Cruise film to earn an opening of over $100 million, even if it may need the extended four-day period to reach that mark.

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If it does overperform, “Top Gun: Maverick” could become Paramount’s highest grossing domestic release since the $245 million run of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” in 2014. If it passes $250 million, it would be the first to reach that mark since “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” in 2011.

“Maverick” certainly has the pre-release buzz to get there, with an excellent 97% Rotten Tomatoes score and rave reviews from attendees at Cannes, CinemaCon and the film’s global premieres in London, San Diego and Tokyo. That could be a big help lure younger audiences for whom the original “Top Gun” opened long before their time — as well as the Gen X men expected to show up in droves this weekend. Even if their turnout is lower compared to Marvel and DC films, post-release word-of-mouth could bring them in over the next two weeks.

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This blockbuster will also be a test of Cruise’s box office performance in an overseas market that has seen most countries improve theatrical turnout, though “Maverick” will not be released in China and Russia. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” had an overseas opening of $94.3 million five years ago, and “Maverick” is projected to come close to that at around $80 million. As producer Jerry Bruckheimer noted, the first “Top Gun” did not have to appeal to a global audience, so it will be interesting to see how much interest there is globally to see Cruise in a film that’s more America-centric than “Mission: Impossible.”

Also opening this Memorial Day weekend is 20th Century’s “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” an adaptation of the hit animated TV series from Loren Bouchard that is projected for an 4-day opening in the $10-14 million range. Like much of 20th Century’s output, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” was significantly delayed by the pandemic and is the last film outside of the “Avatar” sequels greenlight before Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox. Like “Top Gun: Maverick,” reviews have been strong with a 93% Rotten Tomatoes score.

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