Just days ahead of its digital sales debut, director Joseph Kosinski’s high-flying Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick will soar toward $1.895 billion this weekend on its way to an eventual $1.4+ billion final cume. It’s hard to guess how much higher this sequel to Tony Scott’s 1986 mega-hit can climb, but one thing is certain — Top Gun: Maverick will top Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron as the 12th biggest film in history.
Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed $1.402 billion worldwide when it hit theaters in 2015 ($1.75 billion in today’s adjusted dollars, for those obsessed with inflation adjustment — but we lack a “Covid adjustment” calculator, or a secondary “streaming became dominant as a result of Covid” calculator, so I’ll stick with the general comparison). Maverick will presumably be just a few million bucks shy of that number by end of business Sunday, but should surpass it by the following midweek.
With an August 23rd street date for Maverick’s digital sales, audience attendance at the multiplex will probably slow down in the weeks ahead, but not enough to keep it from taking that #12 spot on the all-time charts. It arrives on Blu-ray on November 1st.
To move another spot up the charts, Maverick would have to beat the $1.45 billion gross of Frozen II from 2019. That seems too far out of reach at this point, as Maverick looks like it is finally winding down. But hey, this is a film that keeps surpassing expectations, so who’s to say another rerelease with deleted footage won’t arrive for Thanksgiving or Christmas to try and goose its grand total a little more?
I fully expect Top Gun: Maverick to be a contender for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, and potentially even a Best Actor nod for Cruise. Some supporting acting nominations are possible as well. And I’ve little doubt the film will be a main contender for awards in Visual Effects, Sound, Film Editing, and Score.
By year’s end, Maverick will be one of 2022’s top three highest grossing releases, with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water being the only films likely to equal/surpass Maverick’s ticket sales.
It’s no small feat nowadays for a sequel to a 36 year old “war movie” to pass one of the biggest Marvel superhero movies of all time at the box office. It’s particularly surprising when you dig down into the details — the real antagonists the heroes are up against in Top Gun: Maverick are guilt and blame.
Yes, in the climax the military pilots fly a mission against unnamed bad guys, but the vast majority of the film is about these characters getting to know each other while they train, and coming to terms with their own personal baggage while trying to help one another come to terms as well. Tom Cruise’s guilt and Rooster’s blame are flip sides of the same coin, and each can only let go with the help of the other.
The grand finale is certainly action-packed, and the cinematography and visual effects in Maverick’s many flight scenes are breathtaking and put you right inside the cockpit for an awesome ride, but what we all really responded to and what drives the beating heart of this story is are the decidedly grounded and personal stakes.
Age of Ultron had personal stakes of its own, and Marvel does a terrific job of imbuing their films with plenty of character development, but the larger spectacle and global stakes obviously dominate the plotting and story progression. It’s much more what you expect a modern billion-plus box office blockbuster to look like, in other words.
But Tom Cruise hasn’t lost his movie star drawing power, and the public loves the “all of these stunts are real and Cruise did it” nature of the performer’s films. Plus, character-driven or not, it’s a Top Gun sequel so it’s filled with action and thrills, as well as humor and more than enough nostalgia to make 80s-obsessed folks happy.
Most of all, the enormous success is due to the fact Top Gun: Maverick is so well-written — the screenplay credits went to Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie, with story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks — and so well performed, so well directed, and so well… everything.
Discussions about the best sequels ever made and about sequels that surpass their predecessors have always been tough enough. Maverick definitely further complicates those selections, and ranks among the finest such examples.
Look for Top Gun: Maverick to remain in the top 10 at the domestic box office this weekend, after more than a dozen weeks in release. And watch those digital sales figures when they’re available, no doubt Maverick will sit atop those charts for a good long while, too. And the Blu-ray will surely be a big item at Christmas.
Stay tuned and be sure to check back soon for more box office updates, dear readers!