When “Top Gun: Maverick” finally opens on May 27th… or actually May 26th (Thursday showings)… or actually May 24th (pay preview screenings in premium formats)… it will be the first Tom Cruise film to be released in nearly four years. The last time Cruise appeared in a movie was exactly 3 years and 10 months earlier, on July 27, 2018, in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”.
Like the “Top Gun” sequel, that sixth “M:I” installment was released by Paramount. The studio has been saving “Maverick” for more than two years — through the entire COVID/pandemic period — to give it the best opportunity possible to make the most money possible.
Another mega movie star… well, in this case *former* mega movie star… ended-up in a similar position with a different studio about a decade ago. Will Smith starred in drama “Seven Pounds” for Sony, which opened in December 2008. “Men in Black 3” had a number of problems and delays and didn’t end-up opening until May 2012, nearly three and a half years after “Seven Pounds”. When will be the next time we see Will Smith on a movie screen? At this point, who knows.
Let’s “Cruise” back to Tom. Paramount has a lot riding on “Top Gun: Maverick” and Cruise himself. He’s next set to headline two “Mission: Impossible” entries, “Dead Reckoning: Parts One and Two”. As of now they’ll be out in July 2023 and June 2024, respectively, but they’ve already been pushed back multiple times, so nothing is really for certain. Except that “Top Gun: Maverick” is finally coming out this month… I guess.
Cruise’s career hasn’t simply been dominated by Paramount pictures. “A Few Good Men” and “Jerry Maguire” were Sony releases. “Risky Business”, “Interview with the Vampire”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “The Last Samurai”, “Rock of Ages” and “Edge of Tomorrow” were all distributed by Warner Bros. 20th Century Fox had “Minority Report” and “Knight and Day”. And Universal is the home of “Born on the Fourth of July”, “Oblivion”, “The Mummy” and “American Made”.
But Paramount has been a Cruise go-to, with “Top Gun”, “Days of Thunder”, “The Firm”, “Vanilla Sky”, “War of the Worlds”, the two “Jack Reacher” installments and the “Mission: Impossible” series.
Interestingly, while the six “Mission: Impossible” films were hits for Paramount in North America, they’re not among the studio’s biggest releases. None of the five from the 21st Century are on PAR’s Box Office Top 10 of the Century list. That contains the first two “Iron Man” movies, two “Shrek” chapters, four “Transformers” installments, 2009’s “Star Trek” and 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. Increased ticket prices and increased interest in “Top Gun: Maverick” may force 2010’s “Shrek Forever After” off that chart.
The highest-grossing “M:I” installment is the most recent, 2018’s “Fallout”, with $220.2 million. Its opening weekend was $61.2 million, or just 28% of the total. About that same 28% for 2015’s “Rogue Nation”, with a $55.5 million start and $195 million total. And right around that same 28% mark for the 11-day open of 2011’s “Ghost Protocol” (IMAX and regular theaters over two weekends) vs. the total: $62 million vs. $209.4 million.
Lots of movies have opened to more than $62 million. What Paramount has banked on for the last three “Mission: Impossible” films is how long it can play in theaters after the initial rush. That’s why “M:I” is so important to them. If the “Dead Reckoning” chapters open to gigantic numbers, they’ll be thrilled, but they’re counting on repeat business.
I’m sure they’re also praying for repeat business for “Top Gun: Maverick”, but there’s bound to be a gigantic initial rush over the extended Memorial Day Weekend. Say it has a $90 million open. If PAR wants that to be 28% of a total figure, that figure would be around $320 million domestically. Can “Top Gun: Maverick” really soar that high?
Cruise has done this before outside of “M:I”. Look at “Edge of Tomorrow”. It opened to $28.8 million and just barely crossed $100 million total. 28%. “American Made”’s open to total came close, at around 32%. The first “Jack Reacher” did even better, with its open only accounting for 19% of its total.
If “TG:M” earns $323 million in North America, it will pass “Shrek the Third” and become third on that Paramount Top 10 of the 21st Century list.