Top Gun: Maverick has flown to new heights in the box office and broken a record previously held by Titanic. The Tom Cruise-led sequel to 1986’s popular flight school film was released in May 2022. The Joseph Kosinski-directed Top Gun sequel follows Cruise’s character from the original film, Maverick, as he assumes the role of teacher to a group of star Top Gun alumni, coaching them in preparation for a dangerous mission. Among his students is Miles Teller’s character Rooster, the son of Maverick’s late flight school partner Goose. The characters’ complicated history ultimately serves as the beating heart of the film.
The original Top Gun, though beloved by audiences, had a mixed critical reception and has run into some controversy since its run in theaters. In fact, Tom Cruise went so far as to say in 1990 that he wouldn’t consider returning for a Top Gun sequel because it would be ‘irresponsible’ due to the film’s clean-cut portrayal of war. However, Top Gun: Maverick offers a nuanced story which hones in on character development and shows the messy sides of glorifying the past. Critics seem to agree that the film is much more balanced than its predecessor, with Maverick earning a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the previous film’s 58%. The film’s box office has been watched carefully, with previous projections predicting that Top Gun: Maverick would surpass Titanic.
Riding high off of a wildly successful run in theaters, Top Gun: Maverick has recently crossed a new threshold in terms of numbers. According to EW, the sequel film has now officially taken in $662 million in North America, surpassing Titanic’s $659 million. This makes Top Gun: Maverick the 7th highest grossing film at the domestic box office.
When Top Gun: Maverick was first released, it had big shoes to fill. Its 1986 predecessor was famous for generations due to its jaw-dropping fighter jet action sequences, pop culture staples, and effortless summer aesthetics. 1986’s Top Gun boasted a record breaking run in theaters, too, becoming the highest grossing film of that year. It currently sits as the #270 domestic box office, proving just how far Maverick has come in terms of elevating the franchise. The sequel film even earned praise from acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino. Surpassing Titanic, even in unadjusted numbers, is no small feat for a film that is up against a decline in theater attendance, multiple blockbuster superhero franchise films, and over 400 new films a year.
While Titanic is still one of the highest grossing films on a global level, Top Gun: Maverick continues to climb domestically. The numbers are expected to keep growing with Maverick’s return to theaters with additional bonus content for Paramount’s fan appreciation weekend from August 12th-14th. Since Paramount produced both Maverick and Titanic, the studio has cause to celebrate regardless, especially with Maverick gunning for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War next. Record-breaking box office numbers are a win for all movie theater lovers, proving that even in the streaming era and post-pandemic, films have a place on the big screen.