With $2 million on Monday, Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick will now exceed $600 million in gross domestic revenue. This keeps him in twelfth place behind Incredibles 2 ($609 million), Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($620 million) and The Avengers ($623 million). Once he passes those films, as soon as this weekend ends, it’s a longer climb to the lifetime totals of jurassic world ($652 million) and Titanic ($659 million). The original 1997/1998 theatrical series Titanic, which saw the Kate Winslet/Leonardo DiCaprio melodrama top the weekend box office for 15 consecutive weekends, grossed $600.7 million. So without the 2012 3-D re-release (and obviously without the upcoming 2023 Valentine’s Day re-release already available), Top Gun: Maverick is now the highest-grossing national ever for Paramount. Heck, it’s one of their biggest national earners, even after adjusting for inflation. It is their biggest ‘tickets sold’ hit since James Cameron’s shipwreck masterpiece.
The current domestic volume of $601 million is ninth among all Paramount releases in terms of inflation-adjusted domestic revenue. He sits behind Beverly Hills Cop ($234 million in 1984, highest R-rated revenue until The Matrix Reloaded in the summer of 2003, which amounts to approximately $616 million adjusted), Love story ($106 million in 1970/adjusted $640 million), Fat ($159 million in 1978 / $190 million counting the 1998 reissue that nearly hit Titanic out of first place / $705 million adjusted), Forrest Gump ($329 million in 1994/$719 million adjusted), The Godfather (133 million dollars in 1972/722 million dollars adjusted), The Raiders of the Lost Ark ($212 million in 1981 / $248 million lifetime cumulative / $810 million adjusted), The ten Commandments ($65.5 million in 1956 / $1.199 billion adjusted) and Titanic ($601 million in 1997/$659 million lifetime cumulative/$1.24 billion adjusted). As for re-releases over the original releases, we’ll cross that bridge if Top Gun 2 exceeds $636 million (Fat) or $712 million (Raiders).
What’s… oddly appropriate about this major theatrical triumph is that the Joseph Kosinski-directed actor is a prototypical Paramount genre film. This is neither a compliment nor a criticism. I think of the Paramount release of the 1990s and 2000s as stuff like (among other films) The Hunt for Red October, The Cabinet, Face/Off, Double Jeopardy, Rules of Engagement, The Manchurian Candidate and Sharp eye. They’re all mostly well-made, well-received, star-directed, adult-directed real-world actors who primarily play adults but (depending on the project) can be enjoyed by older kids. Damn, Transformers was arguably a stereotypical Michael Bay action movie with alien robots. At the same time, Jon Favreau Iron Man was a real-world Paramount actor merged with Transformersstyle visuals with a costumed superhero. GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra was a gee-whiz ensemble action fantasy two years before Thor cemented that tone for the MCU, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier was Tom Clancy in tights.
While Paramount ruled the masthead from 2007 (Transformers) to 2014 (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Disney bought Marvel then took over the MCU while DreamWorks Animation went to Fox (then Comcast) while Blumhouse (which delivered paranormal activity) now mainly works with Universal. Meanwhile, the star-driven studio programmer slumped in late 2015/early 2016 as the audience demographic for “just a high-concept, star-driven movie” shifted from theaters to streaming platforms. Disney had the prized intellectual property (star wars, Marvel, Pixar…). Universal had its local franchises (Jurassic, fast and furious, Illumination), WB still had DC Comics, their New Line horror titles, and JK Rowling’s Wizarding World. Paramount made a name for itself on “just a movie” studio programmers only to watch its best IP go elsewhere and find fame approaching the stereotypical Paramount actor. See also: star trek wade after star wars returned and guardians of the galaxy and Fast and Furious made it irrelevant.
Paramount wasn’t the only studio impacted by this “featured characters > IP > actors” change. While Sony would have welcomed a Ghostbusters III in the 1990s, every Sony hit didn’t have to be turned into an eternally monetizable IP, not when “an Adam Sandler comedy” or “a Will Smith actor” sufficed to score a theatrical hit. The first real-world action movie to top the global summer box office since Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible 2 is Tom Cruise Top Gun: Maverick. Paramount has slowly watched Disney’s MCU return many of its prized IP franchises (Transformers, Star Trek, G.I. Joe, TMNT, etc.) unnecessary limit in terms of brand characters and high-end show. There’s sweet revenge or complete satisfaction in watching a real-world, grown-up, self-contained fighter pilot action drama (it doesn’t set up a threesome), starring Tom Cruise and dominating the domestic competition. and global.
It’s not just that a Paramount franchise movie is in the lead for the summer (and possibly the year). It’s not even that raw inside of Top Gun: Maverickwhich is still a nostalgic, IP-specific legacy sequel, is poised to overtake the big Chinese of The Battle of Changjin Lake 2 ($612 million) to make it the first time since 2019 (after the eight hundred in 2020 and The Battle of Changjin Lake in 2021) that a Hollywood film led the year for single market receipts. It is a distinctly Paramount image that achieves these milestones. The next step will be to pass Incredibles 2 to become, without inflation, the most profitable “second party” of all time. Once it passes $621 million, it will be behind Shrek 2, the dark knight and The Empire Strikes Back among the first inflation-adjusted sequels. your move, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of the Water. How many miracles is it now?