Can ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Reach $1 Billion Despite Stiff Competition?

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With over $300 million grossed domestically and $583 million worldwide in just two weeks, “Top Gun: Maverick” has become Paramount’s biggest box office hit in years and has given Tom Cruise a chance at something he’s never had in his career: a $1 billion blockbuster.

But to get there, this acclaimed sequel will have to leg out as several other highly anticipated tentpoles hit theaters over the course of June and July. The competition includes Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion,” Disney/Pixar’s “Lightyear” and Disney/Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder,” as well as smaller films like Warner Bros.’ “Elvis” and Universal’s “Nope” that could peel away certain subsets of moviegoers.

“In some ways, all bets are off, because no film with a $100 million-plus opening has ever had a second weekend as strong as ‘Top Gun: Maverick,” Bruce Nash, founder of the box office database The-Numbers, said of the sequel’s certain chances of reaching the box office target.

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This weekend, “Top Gun: Maverick” will lose premium large format support as Imax and other PLFs begin screening “Jurassic World: Dominion,” meaning its third weekend drop will likely be steeper than the unprecedented 32% that it earned this past weekend. But given the buzz surrounding the film, it’s still possible that the drop only grows at most to around 50%, which would be approximately $40-45 million.

“‘Jurassic World’ is the epitome of a popcorn movie. You know exactly what you’re going to get going in, and audiences have repeatedly shown they want what it offers,” Nash said. “But ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is already getting repeat viewings from people who really love the film. As ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Thor’ hit theaters, it will be those repeat viewings that really support the longevity of ‘Top Gun.'”

And there will be plenty of time for theaters to capitalize off those repeat viewings. Paramount CEO Bob Bakish told The New York Times that while the studio’s recent hits like “Jackass Forever” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” have appeared on Paramount+ around 45 days after theatrical release, “Top Gun: Maverick” will have theatrical exclusivity for much longer. According to Puck, Cruise and “Maverick” producers Skydance have arranged a deal with Paramount requiring a four-month theatrical window, something that “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” enjoyed back in 2018.

If “Maverick” does indeed play through September, when no four-quadrant films (which appeal to men and women older and younger than 25) are set to be released, a $600 million domestic run would be at least feasible, depending on repeat viewership as other summer offerings enter theaters and the pop culture conversation. At minimum, Nash believes that “Top Gun: Maverick” is set for a $500 million domestic run, hitting a mark that no other Paramount film has reached since James Cameron’s legendary “Titanic.”

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From there, a $550 million domestic total should be enough to get “Maverick” to $1 billion when overseas grosses are included. It’s worth noting that only three films — “The Dark Knight,” “Black Panther” and “Rogue One” — have ever reached that $1 billion mark with the majority of revenue coming from domestic theaters.

Long legs for “Top Gun: Maverick” could also help bring back something that has been missing from the box office since theaters reopened. While some blockbusters have posted pre-pandemic numbers over the past year, the totals from films farther down the weekend charts have always been lower. Such was the case this past weekend. While “Maverick” earned an $86 million second weekend, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was in the No. 2 spot with just $9 million from its fifth weekend.

There’s optimism that over the next two months, the increased frequency in releases of highly anticipated films combined with the strong holdover potential of films like “Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion” will lead to both opening weekend and holdover totals increasing each weekend, allowing overall monthly totals in June and July to top $1 billion in North America as they regularly did before the pandemic.

Already, the month-long run of “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” and the record-setting opening of “Top Gun: Maverick” drove May grosses to $786 million, just 6% below the $835 million total of May 2017. With “Maverick” bringing plenty of momentum, June should be even better.

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