‘Top Gun: Maverick’ becomes the first $1 billion Tom Cruise film

By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) – “Top Gun: Maverick” has flown to new heights.

The sequel to the 1986 blockbuster, in which Tom Cruise reprises the famed role of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, has crossed the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office, according to Paramount.

“Maverick” is the first film in Cruise’s more than 40-year career to reach the billion-dollar milestone — and it’s also the second-highest-grossing film in Paramount’s long history in terms of domestic figures, behind only 1997’s “Titanic.”

What’s more, “Maverick” notched its impressive box office figures in a sort of old-fashioned way: It scored a record opening over Memorial Day weekend and hasn’t slowed much since.

“It’s rare to get the special kind of alchemy that creates a true event film, and we have been absolutely blown away by the global response,” Brian Robbins, Paramount Pictures’ president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Maverick” has gotten tremendous word of mouth, and audiences — especially ticket buyers over the age of 35 — have gravitated to the film. That’s notable because this demographic has been somewhat reluctant to return to theaters since the onset of the pandemic.

It’s also only the second movie of the pandemic era to make $1 billion at the global box office, joining December’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

“For any film to join the $1 billion club is a monumental achievement,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscor, (SCOR) told CNN Business. “But ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ hitting $1 billion during the pandemic is a bit different.”

“It was the perfect movie at the perfect time because it starred one of Hollywood’s last movie stars, in a movie that delivered on all fronts to all audiences around the world,” he added.

Critics have also piled on praise. The movie, in which Maverick returns to teach a new set of pilots how to take on an impossible mission, has a near-perfect 97% score on review site Rotten Tomatoes.

So far, the split for “Maverick” is more than $520 million domestically and more than $468 million overseas. It is the 50th film in history to make more than $1 billion at the global box office, not accounting for inflation.

Over the weekend, “Maverick” took the No. 2 spot at the domestic box office in its fifth weekend, notching $29.6 million. No. 1 was the musical biopic “Elvis,” starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, which opened to $31.1 million in North America.

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