In a reflection of Hollywood's deep late-summer slump, "Top Gun: Maverick," first released 15 weeks ago, climbed back to the top of the North American box office this weekend despite a relatively slim four-day take of $7.9 million.
The Paramount action thriller, starring a graying but still flight-ready Tom Cruise, has now soared to a domestic total of $701 million and $740 million internationally, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Monday.
That gravity-defying success came amid a generally abysmal patch for Hollywood films, with few major new releases. A lone bright spot was the record 8.1 million US moviegoers who took advantage of $3 tickets on Saturday's National Cinema Day.
Second place on the long Labor Day weekend -- celebrated in both the United States and Canada -- went to last weekend's No. 2: Sony's action thriller "Bullet Train," at $7.3 million. Brad Pitt stars.
Seeking to fill the late-summer vacuum, Sony re-released superhero film "Spider-Man: No Way Home," hoping that 11 minutes of added footage would draw viewers. Nine months after its original release, the Tom Holland vehicle placed a surprising third, earning $6.6 million.
In fourth place, up two spots from last weekend, was Warner Bros.' family-friendly animation "DC League of Super-Pets," at $6.4 million.
And in fifth, slipping from last weekend's No. 1 spot, was Sony's horror flick "The Invitation," at $6 million.
Hollywood's problems stem partly from Covid-related scheduling chaos, said analyst David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research.
"Moviegoers have shown that they are willing and able, but without big, regular franchise releases to anchor the schedule, the box office is going to drift lower, before climbing back in the fourth quarter."
He noted that 2022 will finish with 32 franchise films, down from 58 in 2019. Forty-two are set for next year.
Rounding out the weekend's top 10 were:
"Beast" ($4.7 million)
"Minions: The Rise of Gru" ($4.2 million)
"Jaws" (re-release): ($3.1 million)
"Thor: Love and Thunder" ($3.1 million)
"Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero" ($2.8 million)