‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Saved the Summer 2022 Movie Season

Top Gun: Maverick might be the most successful anomaly in movie history. The Tom Cruise-led sequel landed in theaters more than 35 years after the first film made him a star. It relies almost entirely on practical effects and footage of actors inside the cockpit instead of green screens and digital effects. The movie sat on the shelf for two years before its 2022 release, but the wait was worth it. Top Gun: Maverick was a hit out of the gate, giving Cruise his best opening weekend by a nautical mile and saving the summer 2022 movie season and movie theaters in the process.

Tom Cruise attends the South Korean premiere of 'Top Gun: Maverick.' After years in the making, 'Top Gun: Maverick' soared into theaters and saved the 2022 movie season.
Tom Cruise attends the South Korean premiere of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ | Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and Tom Cruise break box office records 

Within days, Top Gun: Maverick gave Cruise his best opening weekend by a wide margin. The movie needed only eight days to become his best movie at the domestic box office, and it ranks as one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. 

Two months after Maverick opened, it broke Titanic’s record to become Paramount’s highest-grossing movie domestically. Around the same time, it reached another milestone with its earnings from IMAX screenings. 

Maverick’s upcoming digital and hard copy releases will help the money continue rolling in for Paramount, but not before it helped save the summer movie season and movie theaters that were starved for ticket sales.

‘Maverick’ gave movie theaters a boost 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shuttered movie theaters for much of 2020. Ticket sales picked up in 2021, though some movies saw simultaneous releases in theaters and streaming services.

Top Gun: Maverick changed the game.

Cruise flat-out said no to releasing Maverick on any streaming service at the same time as it hit theaters. The movie received fantastic reviews and word-of-mouth praise, and cinemas were the only place to watch it. 

In a summer 2022 movie season that was relatively light on bankable blockbusters, Top Gun: Maverick positively impacted the box office success for movies that followed on the release schedule. Still, ticket sales hardly slowed down for Maverick even when new competition came along. 

As Forbes reports, the 2022 summer box office declined 28% from 2019, even though releases declined by 55%. Top Gun: Maverick’s success helped stem the bleeding. If the movie had earned $150 million domestically instead of more than $670 million, the summer 2022 box office total would have declined 41% from 2019. To put it simply, Top Gun: Maverick singlehandedly boosted the summer 2022 box office by 13%.

AMC Entertainment, which operates AMC theaters, reported nearly $7 billion in domestic ticket sales through seven months in 2022 and saw 600% revenue growth for the company, reports Seeking Alpha.

The movie could help Cruise’s next blockbuster also become a massive success

Top Gun: Maverick quickly became Cruise’s most successful movie and his first billion-dollar film. His next blockbuster could land in theaters within a year.

According to Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst at Comscore, Maverick’s supersonic success bodes well for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One. Cruise’s next-to-last turn as IMF agent Ethan Hunt is almost guaranteed to follow suit and join the billion-dollar club.

“I would say that Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning next summer is as sure as a bet you can have in terms of a movie that we could say is a preordained or predestined blockbuster,” Dergarabedian told the Toronto Sun.

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The anticipation of the long wait plus the emotional throughlines in Maverick helped make it a critical and commercial success. Cruise fans waited four years between Mission: Impossible Fallout and Maverick (the longest gap of his career). The latter movie proved he’s still a box office star, and the experts give Dead Reckoning Part One a great chance to prove it again.

Top Gun: Maverick gave Tom Cruise his biggest hit, saved the 2022 summer movie season, and could make the next Mission: Impossible movie another billion-dollar behemoth at the box office.

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