At this point, the “need for speed” jokes should’ve fully run their course. “Top Gun: Maverick” is entering its third month in theaters where it has far exceeded the initial box office projections, marked a career milestone for Tom Cruise by passing the $1 billion mark, and earned a global total of $1.2 billion. The film is currently ranked 11th among initial-run North American box-office earners and still, the money keeps pouring in.
So, since “Maverick” has no intention of slowing down, neither does our use of this joke. The need for speed continues with yet another record-breaking revelation! “Top Gun: Maverick” has become Paramount Pictures’ biggest movie ever at the domestic box office, overtaking James Cameron’s “Titanic.” That is to say … “Maverick” has enjoyed a bigger first run at the box office. But thanks to the massive boost from its 2012 theatrical re-release, Cameron’s disaster movie still reigns supreme.
Maverick vs. Titanic: it’s complicated
Finally, an answer to the question we’ve all been asking: in a race between the Unsinkable Ship and Tom Cruise in a fighter jet, who would win? Technically speaking, “Titanic” still has the upper hand. The romantic disaster epic has racked up close to $660 million at the domestic box office when you combine its original run with its 2012 3D re-release, which added another $57.8 million domestically and $292.5 million internationally.
“Titanic” returned to theaters again in 2017, with a one-week run to celebrate its 20th anniversary that added another $691,642 to its domestic total. But it’s really that massive 2012 re-release, freshly remastered in 4K and painstakingly converted to 3D under Cameron’s supervision (at a reported cost of $18 million), that muddies the waters of Paramount’s box office rankings. To this day, the $350 million grossed by “Titanic 3D” holds the worldwide box office record for movie re-releases. But if you only consider the film’s initial domestic run, then it earned $600.8 million — a number that has now been surpassed by “Maverick.”
According to Box Office Mojo, the “Top Gun” sequel has earned a domestic total of $605.9 million, putting it well-above the original “Titanic” record. The best response to this news came from the actor behind one of Maverick’s new young charges. Glen Powell, who dazzles as the Iceman stand-in and apparent antagonist of the group, Hangman, tweeted out the news with the sweet-and-simple comment, “Callsign: Iceberg.” How very in-character of him.
Callsign: Iceberg https://t.co/y2XhxKZTZH
— Glen Powell (@glenpowell) July 13, 2022
All that being said, Titanic still has the lead in the long run and even has plans to keep making money by returning to theaters next Valentine’s Day for its 25th anniversary.
Does the success of Top Gun: Maverick promise a sequel?
In the age of IP dominance, a title doesn’t break this many box office records without setting off some potential sequel alarm bells. And sure enough, we’ve reached the point where the “Top Gun: Maverick” cast members are beginning to weigh in on the possibility of returning to their roles. While chatting with Entertainment Tonight, Miles Teller addressed the rumors of “Top Gun 3” by revealing that conversations are indeed happening — but the ball is in Tom Cruise’s court: “I’ve been having some conversations with him [Tom Cruise] about it,” he shared. “We’ll see.”
It’s hard to imagine the man currently working on his eighth “Mission: Impossible” movie saying no to another go at flight school. Legend has it that Cruise has jet fuel in his veins and every time he makes a younger actor puke during a jet ride, his need for speed intensifies. But then again, there’s a reason it took this long for the “Top Gun” sequel to happen in the first place — Cruise and co. were waiting for the right script. This paid off in spades. “Maverick” is such an effective legacy sequel that it keeps bringing audiences back to the theater. Can that kind of movie magic be replicated? According to Glen Powell, if it can’t, then they won’t bother trying. Powell spoke with IndieWire back in May and said:
“I think Tom, basically, his sort of motto at the beginning of this thing is, if you can’t beat the earlier movies, there’s no reason in doing it at all. There’s no reason in just adding another movie to the filmography of the world, if it doesn’t contribute or beat the original.”
There’s no reason to make a sequel if it doesn’t surpass the original? What a novel idea, If only everyone in Hollywood subscribed to such wisdom!