In an era where sequels and remakes dominate the box office, few films have made as significant an impact as Top Gun: Maverick. Not only did this long-awaited follow-up to the 1986 classic Top Gun shatter box office records, but it also played a crucial role in getting people back into movie theaters after the COVID-19 pandemic. With an all-star cast led by Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller, the film managed to exceed even the highest expectations. Here are the astonishing records broken by Top Gun: Maverick.
Top Gun: Maverick Soars to Box Office Success
Released on Memorial Day weekend, Top Gun: Maverick quickly ascended to the top of the domestic box office. Paramount Pictures, the studio behind the film, had high hopes for the sequel, and it did not disappoint. Among the many records it set, the film achieved the biggest opening weekend for a legacy sequel, earning over $100 million from Friday to Monday.
In addition to its domestic success, Top Gun: Maverick also dominated overseas markets, including Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. This international performance contributed significantly to the film’s overall earnings and helped it surpass previous record-holders such as Avengers: Endgame, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. It currently sits at $1.5 billion world-wide, making it the first film in Tom Cruise’s 40-year career to gross more than $1 billion.
The Impact of Top Gun: Maverick on Movie Theaters
The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on the movie theater industry, with many venues struggling to stay afloat. However, the release of Top Gun: Maverick marked a turning point, as audiences flocked to theaters to witness the return of Cruise’s Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell and Miles Teller, as Goose’s son.
The film’s release provided a much-needed boost to the industry, helping it regain its footing after a long period of uncertainty. The nostalgia factor alone brought out Boomers and Gen X in droves, while the hype around the film seemed to be enough to entice a whole new generation of Top Gun fans.
Miles Teller and Jennifer Connelly Join the Cast
With Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell and Jennifer Connelly joining the cast as Penny Benjamin, Top Gun: Maverick was already guaranteed a certain level of success, but Miles Teller’s portrayal of Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s late best friend, ‘Goose’, stood out. Goose was played by Anthony Edwards in the original film, and Teller has an almost uncanny resemblance.
In a famous scene from the first film, Goose showcases his musical talents by playing and singing “Great Balls of Fire”, side by side with his wife, played by Meg Ryan. In Top Gun: Maverick, Teller’s portrayal of ‘Rooster’ builds on this legacy and pays homage to his character’s late father, by playing and singing “Great Balls of Fire” himself in the film. This scene is a touching tribute to his character’s father, while also showcasing Teller’s musical abilities.
Teller’s preparation for the role, including undergoing specialized mission training, was evident in his performance. As the son of Maverick’s fallen comrade, Rooster carries the weight of his father’s legacy on his shoulders. Teller masterfully captures the complex emotions of a young pilot striving to prove himself while navigating the shadow cast by his father’s untimely death.
Jennifer Connelly’s portrayal of Penny Benjamin, a strong and independent single mother, adds to the film, but is a departure from the original and fantastic chemistry between Maverick and his Top Gun instructor, Charlie, played by Kelly McGillis. Connelly’s character’s relationship with Maverick adds a layer of vulnerability to the story and her character seems to make more sense for this current time in Mavericks’ life.
Cruise’s insistence on authenticity are evident in Top Gun: Maverick, particularly in the film’s aerial combat sequences. These scenes, which feature Cruise piloting his own aircraft, not only impressed audiences but also contributed to the film’s record-breaking success. Cruise typically does his own stunts, but he certainly went above and beyond for Top Gun: Maverick.
Jon Hamm plays Vice Admiral Cyclone, a high-ranking officer in the United States Navy who is initially skeptical of Maverick’s unorthodox methods but ultimately comes to appreciate his unique skills and dedication to his fellow pilots. Hamm’s portrayal of the character is commanding and captures the internal struggle of a career military officer who must balance his duty to uphold the chain of command with his growing respect for Maverick’s abilities.
Veteran actor Ed Harris portrays Admiral Robby ‘Reaper’ McKenna, a respected and experienced leader who serves as a mentor to both Maverick and the younger generation of pilots. Harris plays the character with a sense of gravitas and wisdom, reflecting the challenges he has faced throughout his career and the lessons he has learned along the way.
Glen Powell takes on the role of Hangman, a hotshot pilot who initially clashes with Maverick but eventually learns to respect his experience and expertise. Powell’s portrayal of the character provides a foil to Maverick, illustrating the contrasting approaches and attitudes of the new generation of pilots and the seasoned veterans they encounter.
Other notable supporting cast members include Lewis Pullman as Bob, the son of Iceman, Maverick’s former rival from the first film; Monica Barbaro as Phoenix, the sole female pilot in the group and a skilled aviator in her own right; and Jay Ellis as Payback, a highly competent and ambitious pilot with his sights set on becoming the best.
Val Kilmer returns briefly as Iceman, and doesn’t disappoint. It felt wonderfully nostalgic to have Maverick and Iceman back together again, and even Cruise said he teared up during the filming of their scene.
The Legacy of the Top Gun Franchise
With the success of Top Gun: Maverick, the legacy of the Top Gun franchise has been solidified. The first movie, released in 1986, was already considered a classic and had earned its place in cinema history. The long-awaited sequel had the difficult task of living up to the original film’s legacy, and it managed to do so by tastefully paying homage to the original.
The impact of the Top Gun franchise extends beyond the films themselves, as it has had a lasting influence on popular culture. From the famous “need for speed” catchphrase to the memorable soundtrack, Top Gun and its sequel have long since proven that they’ve earned their accolades. Top Gun: Maverick has a current audience score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.
If you liked this article, check out our article, The Best Tom Cruise Movies of All Time.