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Top Gun: Maverick Is Poised To Make History At The Box Office

"Top Gun" fans have waited 36 years for a sequel, and Tom Cruise and Paramount Studios finally obliged them this summer with "Top Gun: Maverick." Cruise returns as Air Force ace Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, while co-star Val Kilmer is back as Admiral Tom "Iceman" Kazansky. The actors who are new to Jerry Bruckheimer's fictional world of top-tier fighter pilots include Miles Teller, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Glen Powell, Danny Ramirez, and Jon Hamm. Jennifer Connelly also stars as Penny Benjamin, taking over for Kelly McGillis's Charlie as Maverick's romantic interest. As revealed in the gripping trailers for the sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick" picks up Maverick's story as he is called back to train a new class of pilots for a mission to bomb a uranium enrichment facility in the snowy mountains of Eastern Europe.

Critics have passed judgment on "Top Gun: Maverick," with many noting it as a superior feature to the original. As of Sunday, May 29, the sequel earned ratings of 97% from critics and 99% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. The Guardian's Mark Kermode wrote, "'Top Gun: Maverick' offers exactly the kind of air-punching spectacle that reminds people why a trip to the cinema beats staying at home and watching Netflix." Over at The Atlantic, film critic David Sims remarked, "As a stand-alone blockbuster that's just trying to suck viewers' eyeballs out of their sockets with hellacious flight photography and thunderous sound, 'Maverick' is just what every cineplex in the country has been crying out for."

It seems audiences everywhere are flocking to theaters, curious to experience the G-force-like effects of watching "Top Gun: Maverick" for themselves because the latest box office totals and projections point to the sequel breaking records in its opening weekend.

Top Gun: Maverick could potentially smash a box office record

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Top Gun: Maverick" is projected to earn $151 million domestically through the four-day Memorial Day weekend. This means, at minimum, it would come in just $2 million short of the record set by the current record holder for biggest opening on this pivotal holiday weekend, 2007's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (via Box Office Mojo). However, considering Box Office Mojo has, as of early evening Sunday, May 29, updated the "Top Gun: Maverick" page to show a $151 million domestic total, and there's still one day left for the film to beat the third "Pirates" installment, it's very much in the realm of possibility for "Maverick" to become the titleholder for biggest Memorial Day weekend opening.

According to The Numbers, the "Top Gun: Maverick" three-day earnings of $124 million were nearly 10 times the gross box office for this weekend's second most profitable new release, "The Bob's Burgers Movie." Cinemascore, which uses advanced polling techniques to gather audience opinions on opening nights, gave "Top Gun: Maverick" a rare A+ grade. It was the first movie to earn the mark since 2021's "American Underdog" (via /Film) and is one of 57 titles to do so since 2000, per The Wrap.

The film's release was delayed for two years because of COVID-19, and although theater audiences still lag well behind pre-pandemic numbers (via Box Office Mojo), the spectacular opening weekend for "Top Gun: Maverick" has boosted the confidence of some industry leaders. IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond released a hopeful statement saying, "This film heralds the return of the summer blockbuster and is a catalyst that will accelerate demand for moviegoing like an F-18 breaking the sound barrier" (via Deadline).

Cruise nabs a new career milestone thanks to Top Gun: Maverick's opening weekend

The three-day domestic box office total for "Top Gun: Maverick" sets a new standard for Tom Cruise films. When it comes to opening weekend takes, this A-lister is experiencing a career-first with "Maverick" pulling in over $100 million domestically in its opening. Previously, the highest-earning opening went to "War of the Worlds," which earned $64.9 million domestic in 2005 (via Box Office Mojo). Just the first three days of U.S. box office earnings for "Top Gun: Maverick" placed it 15th on Cruise's impressive list of blockbusters, which includes the original "Top Gun" at $180 million and five "Mission: Impossible" films that have earned even more (via The Numbers). "War of the Worlds" and its $234 total domestic gross, tops for Cruise, certainly seems within reach for "Top Gun: Maverick" given its stellar opening weekend.

David Crow of Den of Geek credits Cruise's star power with driving the film's robust box office numbers. "Cruise's Maverick isn't returning in a supporting role to pass the torch to the next generation; he's here to prove that no one can be better trusted in the cockpit than Mav, even if he's pushing 60," Crow wrote. "Cruise's onscreen persona proves he deserves that kind of following as he took the concept of 'Top Gun' so much further than how it was done in '86." 

Director Joseph Kosinski told Entertainment Weekly that he remains open to the possibility of a third "Top Gun" film. "It's all about the story for Tom," he said. "If we can figure out a way to tell what Maverick's up to next, who knows?" While the idea of a 95-year-old Cruise returning to subject his body to the rigors of fighter jet maneuvers would certainly entice some fans, most would likely appreciate not having to wait 36 more years for another "Top Gun" movie.