5 Reasons ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Became Tom Cruise’s Most Successful Movie

Top Gun: Maverick is officially in the billion-dollar club. Fans had to wait a long time to see Tom Cruise in the follow-up to 1986’s Top Gun, and then they had to wait some more. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delayed the movie’s release, but it went supersonic as soon as it hit theaters and gave Cruise his best opening weekend ever. Now, it’s one of the top 50 movies by lifetime gross (per Box Office Mojo), and it’s not an accident. Top Gun: Maverick got to where it is — Cruise’s most successful movie — because of the strength of the film, but the masterclass in marketing didn’t hurt. 

(From left) Christopher McQuarrie, Jerry Bruckheimer, Danny Ramirez, Glen Powell, Miles Teller, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Jay Ellis, Lewis Pullman, Greg Tarzan Davis, Joseph Kosinski, and David Ellison attend the UK of 'Top Gun: Maverick,' which became Cruise's biggest hit ever thanks in part to a massive marketing blitz.
(From left) Christopher McQuarrie, Jerry Bruckheimer, Danny Ramirez, Glen Powell, Miles Teller, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Jay Ellis, Lewis Pullman, Greg Tarzan Davis, Joseph Kosinski, and David Ellison attend the UK premiere of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ | Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

1. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ buzz never died out, even when the movie was years away

The planned-for 2019 release for Top gun: Maverick never happened because some scenes required 2020 reshoots. Coronavirus ups and downs delayed the release even further, but Paramount never let the buzz die out. The constant push helped make Maverick Cruise’s most successful movie ever.

The studio released an official trailer in 2020, and the actors made the rounds to promote it. Miles Teller and Glen Powell, for instance, appeared on the Rich Eisen Show together that year to promote a movie that wouldn’t hit theaters for another two years. 

Cruise went on The Graham Norton Show in 2021 to talk about the movie, even though it was far from finished. And when a 2022 release became realistic, new teaser trailers and talk show appearances re-upped the buzz around the movie.

2. Tom Cruise has a helicopter arrival at the ‘Maverick’ premiere

Cruise arrived via helicopter for the world premiere, which isn’t all that surprising for someone who has always loved doing stunts. The anticipation for Maverick was already through the roof after years of waiting, but Cruise’s entrance helped take things up a notch. 

But Cruise wasn’t alone in helping propel Top Gun: Maverick’s word of mouth. His co-stars and seemingly everyone at Paramount shared the same mission — to make the movie soar. The team effort helped make Maverick Cruise’s most successful movie by almost any measure.

3. Paramount executives, co-stars, and a lawsuit keep the buzz going and helped make ‘Maverick’ Cruise’s most successful movie

Marc Weinstock, Paramount’s head of global marketing, teased a spectacle at the Cannes Film Festival on the heels of Cruise’s helicopter entrance at the world premiere. 

A red, white, and blue fighter jet flyover greeted festival-goers; news of Cruise’s standing ovation fed into the hype. Heck, even news of a copyright infringement lawsuit served to keep the movie in the spotlight.

In addition to all that, Cruise’s co-stars committed to doing all the promo work over again: Press rounds, talk show appearances, premieres around the world, and video segments. 

After waiting decades for the follow-up and then another couple of years for Maverick to finally hit theaters, everyone involved did their part to keep the movie in the news.

4. Cruise refuses to make the movie available for streaming

As the star and one of the producers, Cruise has a lot of say about the length of Top Gun: Maverick’s theatrical run. And he wants that run to be as long as possible.

The movie has no confirmed streaming date, but not because Cruise wants to earn bragging rights and cement Maverick as his most successful movie with a bigger box office number. It’s because the filmmakers created a film best suited for the theater. Yes, Cruise gets a cut of the box office haul, but keeping on big screens sends a clear message to theater operators — let’s get things back on track after two pandemic years.

Indeed, the buzz around Maverick and its massive early success had a ripple effect on Jurassic World Dominion and Lightyear.

5. What’s Your Call Sign website refreshes marketing blitz weeks after the movie debuted 

The popularity of the What’s My Call Sign? Website surged several weeks after Maverick’s Memorial Day weekend opening. Would-be fighter pilots with a web camera can have the site assign a call sign and a flight helmet. After inputting a first name, users answer three questions to get their Top Gun: Maverick call sign. 

The novelty experience has little to do with the movie-going experience, but it proves Paramount put a lot of thought into reaching as many fans as possible. 

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