LOS ANGELES – “Top Gun: Maverick” soared to $124 million during its opening weekend, earning Tom Cruise his highest domestic debut.
The prolific actor, who has made a name for himself as a fearless stuntman, has generated more than $4.2 billion at the domestic box office since 1981 but had previously never had a film open to more than $65 million.
The Paramount and Skydance film also generated $124 million internationally, bringing its total opening weekend haul to $248 million. The studio expects the film to reach $151 million for the four-day Memorial Day weekend. The film could have a strong hold over the next few weeks as it faces limited box office competition until the June 10 release of Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion.”
“The summer movie season is back,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “The performance of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is a stunning reminder that when you combine one of the last genuine movie stars with great old fashioned story telling, audiences of all ages will rush out to the theater to be a part of the communal bigger than life moviegoing experience.”
The big opening for “Top Gun: Maverick” is a positive sign for the box office, which is still recovering from the ongoing pandemic. The film drew in older audiences, a coveted demographic that has been slower to return to cinemas since they began to reopen in mid-2020.
Around 29% of tickets sold during the weekend were for showings before 3 p.m. and 35% were were for screenings between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to EntTelligence. This indicates that a significant chunk of ticket sales were for matinee shows, a time period that older moviegoers gravitate towards.
Only 11% of tickets were sold for showings held after 9 p.m. According to data from Paramount, 55% of moviegoers were over the age of 35.
Around 9 million moviegoers are expected to see “Top Gun: Maverick” over its first three days in theaters, according to EntTelligence. This is more than four times the two million patrons that saw the original “Top Gun” in theaters during its debut in 1986.
Not including Thursday preview screenings, 32% of tickets were sold for premium format showings, with the average ticket price hitting $16.32. Non-premium tickets averaged at around $12.86 a piece, EntTelligence reported.
The film’s strong performance also comes just weeks after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed it had bought 68.9 million shares of Paramount to build a stake worth $2.6 billion as of the end of March.
Paramount was Berkshire’s 18th largest holding at the end of the first quarter. The new stake adds another streaming property to Berkshire’s portfolio, whose top holding is Apple.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of “Jurassic World: Dominion.”