‘Top Gun: Maverick’ To Fly High In Second Weekend
There is no doubt that the box office is flying high after a stratospheric $127 million three-day and $161 million four-day holiday opening for Top Gun: Maverick, which was the biggest non-superhero debut since 2019 and nearly double the previous best Tom Cruise opening. The three-and-a-half decade in the waiting sequel also delivered a new record for Memorial Day weekend, beating Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Despite these highs, the lack of new releases is still holding back the box office, which is why May, despite being the second highest grossing month since the pandemic began with an overall box office of $786 million, was the lowest grossing May since 2006.

The month of May had two blockbusters with openings over $100 million (the other being Doctor Strange 2), but other than that it just had two films open in the teens, and nothing else to even open above $5 million. Compare this to May 2019, following the huge late April release of Avengers: Endgame, when there were three films to open between $50-100 million (Aladdin, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum), three more above $10 million, and six more above $5 million. This Memorial Day weekend, four out of the top ten films were from earlier months, compared to 2019 when Endgame was the only non-May release in the top ten for the holiday. While the rest of the summer slate is busier than May, there is still a relative lack of releases, with only four major studio films going wide in June compared to seven (plus three more wides from Lionsgate, Amazon, and UA) in 2019.

With nothing major opening this weekend, it is clear skies again for Top Gun: Maverick, and expectations for its second weekend are high given the film’s phenomenal word of mouth (it received the rare A+ CinemaScore). Cruise films typically hold well, with the last two Mission: Impossible films having second weekend drops below 50%. A larger drop may be in store here given the massive size of its opening, but if Top Gun 2 manages a similar hold then its second weekend could end up bigger than any previous Cruise film’s opening. The weekday numbers certainly suggest the film will stay in flight this weekend, as the $15.8 million Tuesday was the best Tuesday of the year (beating the higher opening Doctor Strange 2 and The Batman), the third best in the history of May (behind two Avengers films), and more than double the first Tuesday of the previous Memorial Day weekend topper Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. However it slices this weekend, Top Gun 2 will surpass War of the Worlds’ $234 million any day now to become Cruise’s top domestic grosser.

Worldwide it has a tougher hill to climb to become Cruise’s biggest, though it is certainly possible. On a like-for-like basis it is running ahead of Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Cruise’s top worldwide hit with a $791 million global cume. The catch is that Maverick looks unlikely to play in China, where Fallout made $181 million. It’s too early to say how well the film will play through the summer, but there’s the chance that that China gap will be closed by the U.S. alone, if not splitting the difference between domestic and international. The film continues its international rollout, with Ukraine and CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States, to which Ukraine used to belong) coming this week (Russia remains off the table) and South Korea coming the 23rd. While Maverick doesn’t face competition in most countries for another week, Jurassic World Dominion begins its international rollout this week in 15 markets, including Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and South Korea. The $6 million debut in Korea was the fourth best ever for the country.

While studios are holding off from opening in the weekend sandwiched between Top Gun and Jurassic Park sequels, IFC is taking advantage of the vacancy and going wide with Watcher, which played in competition at Sundance earlier this year. The psychological thriller is about a young American woman (Maika Monroe) who moves to Romania and believes she is being stalked, all while a serial killer is on the loose. Watcher is at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and is the first feature from filmmaker Chloe Okuno who also directed a segment in the horror anthology V/H/S/94.

Opening in New York and Los Angeles is The Phantom of the Open from Sony Pictures Classics. Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins, and Rhys Ifans star in this biopic of Maurice Flitcroft, an ordinary British man with no experience who became known as "the world's worst golfer" after posing as a pro in a qualifier for the 1976 Open. Craig Roberts directs from a script by Simon Farnaby, adapting from the nonfiction book of the same name which he co-wrote. Reviews are positive (91% on Rotten Tomatoes). A good comp is SPC’s recent The Duke (another crowd-pleasing British period dramedy based on a true story) which grossed $1.3 million in the states (though The Duke was the bigger film in the U.K., grossing $6.4 million compared to Phantom’s $2.2 million).

Also opening in limited is Crimes of the Future from Neon. David Cronenberg’s return to the science-fiction and body-horror genres competed at Cannes and stars Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart. At 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is the auteur’s best reviewed film since Eastern Promises in 2007.

Going wide in the state of Texas is Deep in the Heart: A Texas Wildlife Story from Fin and Fur Films. The nature documentary is narrated by Matthew McConaughey and written and directed by Ben Masters.

Also expected to make a splash in the specialty box office are two new Indian films, the Hindi language historical epic Samrat Prithviraj starring Akshay Kumar and the Tamil language action-thriller Vikram starring Kamal Haasan.