Tom Cruise Box Office: ‘Top Gun 2’ Passes ‘Top Gun’ And ‘Mission: Impossible’

Skydance and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick earned another $16.1 million on Tuesday, dropping just 52.2% from its $33.8 million Monday gross. That gives it a $176.65 million five-day total, putting it just under the $176.7 million 1986 theatrical run of the first Top Gun. The Tony Scott-directed film has earned a lifetime total of $180.2 million (mostly due to a 2013 3-D reissue), but it’ll be past that sometime today. Moreover, once it passes $181 million, it’ll top Mission: Impossible ($181 million in 1996) to become Tom Cruise’s sixth-biggest domestic grosser behind Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($195 million), Mission: Impossible II ($215 million), Mission: Impossible – Fallout ($209 million), Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol ($220 million) and War of the Worlds ($235 million). Barring a very unlikely collapse, it should be past those (sans inflation, of course) by Sunday night. Heck, it could be over $200 million as early as tomorrow.

In terms of inflation-adjusted grosses, well, it could be well into the top-ten by Sunday night anyway. If it ends the weekend with at least $244 million (a reasonable presumption), it’ll pass Ghost Protocol’s inflation-adjusted total and sit behind only Jerry Maguire ($153 million in 1996/$311 million adjusted), A Few Good Men ($141 million in 1992/$312 million adjusted), War of the Worlds ($334 million adjusted), The Firm ($158 million in 1993/$350 million adjusted), Mission: Impossible II ($365 million adjusted), Mission: Impossible ($374 million adjusted), Rain Man ($173 million in 1988/$396 million adjusted) and Top Gun ($439 million adjusted). Cruise’s peak stardom was in a time when $30 million was a big budget, $15 million was a great opening and $200 million worldwide was an unquestionable success. Moreover, an Oscar-winning crowdpleaser like Rain Man would earn grosses on par with an unapologetic action blockbuster like Top Gun.

In 2022, things have evolved/devolved to the point where an old-school 1980’s-style Hollywood action drama, believe-your-eyes spectacle, star power, and a narrative about non-superpowered people and their life-sized problems, is now aspirational/prestigious. Granted, you could argue that the prototypical Tom Cruise action hero is a glorified superhero, and I’d argue likewise both for the likes of John Wick, James Bond and Jason Bourne as well as Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster American Sniper ($350 million domestic from a $108 million Fri-Mon debut in early 2015). For older audiences who still like huge action movies but don’t care as much about superheroes or fantasy characters, Top Gun: Maverick has been the first of its kind since No Time to Die last October. Judging by the size and general age-range of my near-packed IMAX showing yesterday afternoon, that’s not an insignificant demographic.

The 53% Monday-to-Tuesday drop is better than Aladdin (-52.5%) which was previously the best hold I could find for a remotely recent mega-opener for the Memorial Day weekend frame. The three X-Men movies opening on this weekend dropped between and 54% and 64% on day five/Tuesday, while Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (which held the Memorial Day opening weekend record until this weekend with $153 million in 2007) dropped 68% on its fifth day while Pirates of the Caribbean 5 dropped 55% after a $78.5 million Fri-Mon debut in 2017. In a pre “cheap ticket Tuesday” era, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull dropped 72% and Men in Black III dropped 62%. Solo fell 61% and Fast & Furious 6 fell 59%. Apples and oranges perhaps, but let’s see if the well-reviewed and well-received legacy sequel can keep that Tuesday-to-Wednesday drop below 40%.

Oh, and Top Gun 2 scored the third-biggest Tuesday for the month of May behind The Avengers ($17.6 million) and Avengers: Infinity War ($23.4 million). The longer Top Gun 2 plays like Aladdin (which had an incredible 3.1x multiplier off a $117 million debut in 2019), the more likely it ends up above $400 million domestic. And when it gets past $456 million worldwide, maybe as soon as Sunday night, it’ll pass The Last Samurai as Cruise’s second-biggest non-Mission: Impossible movie behind War of the Worlds ($600 million). With no major releases this weekend (gives Hollywood a big “Paddington stare”) and little outside of Elvis appealing to older moviegoers between now and Bullet Train in August, Top Gun: Maverick is uniquely positioned as the event movie of the season for those who don’t care about dinosaurs, superheroes or kid-targeted animated films. Top Gun: Maverick may yet soar to infinity and beyond.

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