How Gen X Made ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Into a Box Office Record Breaker

·2-min read

After a year in which younger adults have been the kingmakers at the box office, Paramount/Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick” has become one of the biggest hits of the pandemic era thanks in large part to Gen X moviegoers who saw the original “Top Gun” back in the 1980s.

With a four-day estimated opening of $156 million, “Top Gun: Maverick” has passed “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” for the highest Memorial Day weekend opening ever. Even “Maverick’s” three-day opening of $126.7 million ranks fourth-highest among all films released in the U.S. since theaters reopened.

And that’s especially impressive when you consider this: Paramount’s demographics reports show that a staggering 55% of the opening audience was over the age of 35. By comparison, that age group’s opening audience share for Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” back in March was just 31%, while the opening audience share for Tom Cruise’s last blockbuster, “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” was 37% over 35, back in 2018.

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Since “Top Gun: Maverick” was first added to Paramount’s release slate, both the studio and box office analysts expected the film to be driven by moviegoers in their 40s and 50s who have fond memories of seeing the original “Top Gun,” which became one of the top 10 highest grossing movies of the decade back in 1986.

But for this sequel to show such excellent results off of that Gen X nostalgia is truly unique, as “Top Gun: Maverick” is performing like a superhero or a “Fast & Furious” film that has been historically driven by millennial and Gen Z fans.

But those younger moviegoers are also flying into the Danger Zone, and that is even better news for “Top Gun: Maverick.” Paramount reports that 21% of the opening weekend audience came from the 18-24 age demo, showing that the overwhelming critical and audience acclaim for this sequel is grabbing the attention of those who weren’t born when “Top Gun” premiered.

While Cruise’s generation should continue to lead turnout for “Maverick,” there’s even more upside for the film’s interest among the 18-35 moviegoers that may not have shown up on opening weekend like they did for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” but could buy a ticket over the next two weeks thanks to the overwhelming post-release buzz. That should drive “Top Gun: Maverick” to an excellent run throughout June, even though it will face stiff competition from “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Lightyear” in a few weeks.

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