‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Is a Marvel — Older Audiences Are Finally Returning to the Movies

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With an estimated $124 million domestic and $151 million international, “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount) is a global hit. The foreign interest in the Skydance co-produced sequel that centers on the American military — and one that arrives decades after the original — is a credit to its star as well as top-flight marketing that included its Cannes premiere. This is also Tom Cruise’s biggest opening ever, including adjustments for inflation.

More importantly, Cruise’s return to the character that propelled him into superstardom 36 years ago also represents a significant advancement for theater recovery.

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It is the highest initial gross for any non-comic book movie since December 2019. Propelling its success is an audience that’s been slow to return. It is also that rarest of creatures: a standalone film propelled by a star’s draw.

Though not the biggest Memorial Day opening, “Maverick” might have had the highest average per-ticket price of any blockbuster (thanks to recent increases, including premium showings).

This weekend, not including the Monday holiday, totaled $175 million. That’s a good comp against 2019, which grossed $181 million and had a greater depth of offerings (“Aladdin” accounted for half of that total, while “Maverick” was over 70 percent). At 96 percent compared to three years ago, that is a strong indication of recovery. The four-week rolling comparison to the same period in 2019 rebounded to 78 percent.

Perhaps best of all is how this was achieved. “Maverick” had by far the most interest of older audiences of any film in the Covid era. A majority (55 percent) was over 35. That is far different from most top-grossing films, even in pre-Covid times. For the current environment, it is a major victory.

“Maverick” audiences were 37 percent 18-34, with 34 percent non-white (less than other top titles) and 58 percent male — less the 62 percent for the first weekend of “Doctor Strange.”

The best news is the A+ Cinemascore. That’s the same as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (with its more than double opening). A rating like that means positive response across the board. Between the likelihood that adults are still lagging a bit, this suggests a significant multiple ahead. Doable: $400 million domestic or more.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” - Credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Studios
“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” - Credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

“The Bob’s Burger’s Movie” (Disney) was the second wide studio opening, placing #3 with $12,600,000. This was also a bit above expectations. The Fox Animation spin-off from the TV series is significant just for its theatrical  release, rather than going directly to Disney+. Whether this level of interest satisfies Disney will have to be determined (including how well it holds in the three weeks before “Lightyear,” the next animated release).

Disney also took second place with “Doctor Strange” with $16.4 million, now just shy of $371 million. It should be the first 2021 release to reach a $400 million domestic total.

The holdovers varied greatly in stamina.  “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (Focus) fell 63 percent in weekend two, compared to 54 percent for the earlier film. Overlapping age appeal for “Maverick,” despite different genres (to say the least), likely accounted for this. “Downton” during the week did better than average; by normal calculations, it would predict an $8 million-$9 million weekend compared to the actual $5.9 million.

Two notable numbers among other top 10 titles. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24) is now just shy of $57 million. That figure is now ahead of “Parasite,” which at $55 million (including its Oscar boost) stands as a top result for a specialized release. Though “Everything” isn’t non-English, it is just as offbeat as Neon’s Korean hit. It could go as high as $65 million.

“The Lost City” - Credit: Paramount
“The Lost City” - Credit: Paramount


Sandra Bullock (aided by co-star Channing Tatum) was key to boosting “The Lost City” (Paramount) over $100 million this weekend. That’s another non-franchise title for older audiences — in its case, boosted by women.

Along with “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and now “Maverick,” that makes three Paramount films this year to pass $100 million domestic. Only seven films have reached that in 2022, and Paramount has the highest total.

Of note in the struggling limited specialized market are initial results for two sold-out shows for the “Freakscene: the Story of Dinosaur Jr.” (Utopia). The rock documentary will have more than 70 similar showings on Tuesday.

Neon debuted “A Chiara” in two theaters, taking in a modest $5,000.


The Top Ten (3-day totals)

1. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 78; Est. budget: $170 million

$124,000,000 in 4,735 theaters; PTA: $26,188; Cumulative: $124,000,000

2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #1

$16,400,000 (-49%) in 3,805 (-709) theaters; PTA: $4,310; Cumulative: $370,774,000

3. The Bob’s Burgers Movie (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 74; Est. budget: $

$12,600,000 in 3,425 theaters; PTA: $3,679; Cumulative: $12,600,000

4. Downton Abbey: A New Era (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$5,900,000 (-63%) in 3,830 (+10) theaters; PTA: $1,540; Cumulative: $28,479,000

5. The Bad Guys (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #3; also on PVOD

$4,630,000 (-25%) in 2,944 (-761) theaters; PTA: $1,573; Cumulative: $81,373,000

6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Paramount) Week 8; Last weekend #4; also on PVOD and Paramount +

$2,520,000 (-38%) in 2,329 (-761) theaters; TA: $185,139,000; Cumulative: $185,139,000

7. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 10; Last weekend #6

$2,510,000 (-20%) in 1,189 (-389) theaters; Cumulative: $56,824,000

8. The Lost City (Paramount) Week 10; Last weekend #9; also on PVOD

$1,795,000 (+15 %) in 1,027 (-369) theaters; TA: $1,748; Cumulative: $

9. Men (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$1,225,000 (-63%) in 2,196 (-16) theaters; PTA: $558;Cumulative: $5,968,000

10. F3: Fun and Frustration (Independent Indian) Cinemascore: ; Metacritic:; Est. budget: $

$(est.) 950,000 in 400 theaters; PTA: $2,375; Cumulative: $(est.) 950,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr. (Utopia) NEW

$19,074 in 2 theaters; PTA: $9,537

A Chiara (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Cannes, New York 2021

$5,000 in 2 theaters; PTA: $2,500

Family Camp (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$227,590 in 572 (-489) theaters;  Cumulative: $3,348,000

Pleasure (Neon) Week 3

$14,730 in 33 (-11)  theaters; Cumulative: $89,856

Montana Story (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$97,217 in 290 (+266) theaters;  Cumulative: $152,722

Jazzfest: A New Orleans Story (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3  11

$1,805 in 6 (-5) theaters; Cumulative: $19,971

Vortex (Utopia) Week 5; also on VOD

$8,448 in 16 (-8) theaters; Cumulative: $140,453

The Northman (Focus) Week 6; also on PVOD

$252,000 in 388 (-875) theaters; Cumulative: $33,790,000

Petit Maman (Neon) Week 6

$21,380 in 42 (-41) theaters; Cumulative: $755,509

The Duke (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

$72,388 in 102 (-78) theaters; Cumulative: $1,329,000

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