"Top Gun: Maverick" is aiming for a massive Memorial Day weekend.
The Tom Cruise-led sequel, which saw its theatrical debut delayed several times due to COVID-19, is expected by most observers to pull in more than $100 million domestically over the holiday stretch.
"Expectations are high," Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, told Yahoo Finance). Robbins added that "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 a three-day opening weekend range of $120-145 million and a four-day opening weekend range of $143-$177 million.
Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End," released in 2007, currently holds the Memorial Day weekend record by earning $114.7 million and $139.8 million over its three-day and four-day openings, respectively, based on the official numbers.
'Really hard to find any downside here'
Robbins predicted that the film would be Cruise's first $100-million opener of his decades-spanning career and even "going pretty significantly further."
So far, Cruise’s biggest domestic opener was 2005’s "War of the Worlds," which garnered $64.8 million at the box office over an extended July 4 weekend.
And although "Maverick" will rely on a majority male audience, Robbins thinks the sequel has the potential to sway adult women both domestically and internationally — especially with Cruise at the helm.
"The buzz around ['Maverick'] is just kind of insane at this point," Robbins said. "I think we're very likely looking at one of the biggest Memorial Day openers of all time," suggesting a new record is not off of the table given the strong reviews (97% on Rotten Tomatoes) and positive online chatter.
"It's really hard to find any downside here," he stated, although he did note one potential risk could be the film's strong ties to the 1986 original. "It's a question about how much youth appeal there will be for this movie, especially for people who didn't grow up seeing it. That will be the biggest and probably most significant test."
Overall, Robbins said "Maverick" will offer more insight when it comes to that key older demographic, which has been slow to return to theaters amid the pandemic.
"This is a Generation X blockbuster that people have been looking forward to for decades," he explained. "Its performance will tell us a lot about where some of that that staggering audience has been in terms of coming back to the theaters this summer."
Paramount (PARA) is releasing "Maverick" as the widest theatrical launch in history at 4,732 locations. That's higher than the prior opening weekend record of 4,725 locations by 2019’s "The Lion King" remake, Box Office Pro data revealed.
"Maverick," which follows the ultra-successful "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," will pave the way for a heavy slate of hot summer titles, including "Jurassic World: Dominion," "Lightyear," "Minions: The Rise of Gru," and "Thor: Love and Thunder."
"It feels a little bit more like a normal summer — summer movie going has always been a big part of the culture," Robbins said, adding: "A lot of these movies, pending word of mouth, have that ability to really bring back some of the moviegoing that we haven't seen since 2019."
Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org