Three lessons from Tom Cruise’s $300 million debut

Three lessons from Tom Cruise’s 0 million debut

With rave reviews, an A+ Cinemascore and a staggering four-day domestic gross of $160.5 million and $300 million worldwide as of yesterday, Skydance and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick it’s messing up everyone’s summer movie betting pool and making me look pretty stupid. To be fair, the latter isn’t hard to do, though I’m sure Top Gun: Maverick it would have grossed slightly less (even though it may still have become a return rate hit) if it had opened in the summer of 2020 in a non-Covid world as just another nostalgic seasonal/tent franchise operation The key was that, yes, audiences really wanted to see Tom Cruise *as* Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in a top gun sequel just when they wanted to see Harrison Ford *as* Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. in the summer of 2008, almost a decade after Ford’s last release without IP (what’s underneath in the summer of 2000). What does this all mean? Good…

Tom Cruise is the new Tom Holland:

Yes, Tom Cruise has been a relative “movie star” ever since. risky business in 1983, and yes, it was the first top gun (opening a year after its first real flop, Ridley Scott’s Legend) that made him a global superstar/pop culture icon. However, for the past 15 years, Cruise’s biggest successes, by far, have been Mission Impossible films in which he played an increasingly autobiographical Ethan Hunt. and save for Made in the USAa late 2017 action comedy loosely related to the Iran Contra scandal, all his movies since 2010 (James Mangold, Cameron Diaz, starring knight and day) have been A) blockbuster action movies and B) meant to prove that Cruise was still an A-level global movie star. Mission Impossible The ceiling for a movie since 2006 has been above or below $400 million, both for very good movies (The Age of Tomorrow with $375 million) and very poorly (The Mummy with $409 million).

Top Gun: Maverick will sail past The last Samurai ($456 million worldwide in 2003) to become the second largest “non-Mission Impossible” ruder (behind Steven Spielberg’s $600 million gross war of words) in a week. What is different? Well, and that’s why I’m kicking myself for not “calling it out”, it’s a perfect example of the new movie stardom. Movie stars are still important, but they are more so (in most cases) when the actor is playing a prominent character that approximates the actor’s on-screen or off-screen personality. As I wrote in February, Tom Holland is not a “star” in a movie like Cherry. But he’s a star Unexplored while playing Nathan Drake as essentially “Peter Parker with guns”. Equally, Poison stars Tom Hardy as a version of Eddie Brock from crazy bananas, while Angelina Jolie playing Maleficent fits like a glove. First top gun he essentially created the on-screen persona of Tom Cruise.

Top Gun: Maverick depicts Tom Cruise applying himself to novelty film stardom. For just about every actor except Leonardo DiCaprio and Sandra Bullock, though even their non-IP hits tend to feature those actors performing riffs on their respective characters (same goes for Denzel Washington playing “Justice Man” in Burning Men or The Equalizer), stardom mostly just works as a butts-in-the-seats concept when popular actors play featured characters within popular IPs where those characters are kind of a riff on that actor’s personality. Pete “Mitchell” Maverick is an analog hero past his prime, stuck in the past in a digital world, one who refuses to give up the sword because he knows those beneath him may not be able to win the battle. . . At best, the film is a metaphor for Cruise’s current stardom and the film’s existence as an IMAX-worthy spectacle in a world of prestige TV and streaming shows.

Older audiences will continue to flock to theaters for event movies.

Yeah, that’s great news Top Gun: Maverick it made $160.5 million domestically with demos that were 55% over the age of 35, playing (for what it’s worth) 66% Caucasian and 57% male. And hell, I’ve argued before that Spider-Man: No Way Home Y the batman not reach $804 million and $370 million, respectively, without the help of us “old guys”. But it’s telling that the same guys who flocked to Top Gun: Maverick this weekend did not show up to the slew of end-of-the-year “adult movies” that crashed and burned in late 2021 or early 2022. Didn’t show up to The Last Duel, Last Night in Soho, West Side Story, King Richard, Death on the Nile me Downton Abbey: A New Age (It’s doing relatively well, but nowhere near the first film’s $196 million global jackpot.) Even house of gucci it was only a relative success, earning $53 million domestically and $155 million worldwide on a budget of $75 million.

As I’ve been complaining about since the end of 2016, we have a new normal where movies that would normally be aimed at children (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Aladdin, Spider-Man: No Way Home, etc.) are so overwhelmingly four-quadrant that they account for what children watch and what older people who only go to the movies maybe once a month choose to watch. When Captain America: Civil War is “superheroes for kids, Tom Clancy-esque intrigue for adults”, real movies for adults like money monster Y the good guys you don’t have a prayer We say we want movies like widows, overlord Y a simple favor but overwhelmingly we spend our money on poison the grinch Y Hallowe’en. That’s fine for theaters, like a big popcorn for The Lion King costs the same as one for smart bookingbut it’s not great for studios that want to make more “movie-movie.”

Top Gun: Maverick it’s arguably a canny mix of old-school cinematography (a story about real-world Americans and their life-size conflicts, practical effects, star power, a narrative involving older stars and their journeys in the third act, a dedication to clean, understandable, and character-over-plot storytelling, etc.) and novelty blockbusters (IP, featured characters, generational nostalgia, framing legacy sequels, etc.) that is uniquely aimed at older audiences. Of course, I found some of his narration to be a bit rise Of Skywalker, but A) I’m obviously in the minority and B) the movie works as a metaphor for Hollywood’s inability to give us a new generation of “new Tom Cruise” actors worth their salt, thus requiring the real Tom Cruise to save the day. day. All this said if movies like Top Gun: Maverick can’t pack them, then most conventional adult movies won’t have a theater to play in at all. Maverick turned death into an opportunity to survive.

Hollywood no longer needs China.

Paramount and Skydance Top Gun: Maverick It was probably given the green light partially based on the assumption, which made sense in 2017 and 2018, that it would do quite well in China and at least compensate for possible domestic or related disinterest abroad. We received news last week that Tencent withdrew your investment supposedly on assumptions that “America, fuck yes!” The film would not pass the test with Chinese censors. That’s ironic since China’s highest-grossing movies in 2021 and 2022 are the two-part ones. Battle of Changjin Lake ($911 million and $611 million respectively) which are explicit “China kicks America’s ass in the Korean War” action cliffhangers. Never mind, the Covid-era outlook for Hollywood movies showing in China has almost always been bleak, with MCU movies not getting admission (for silly reasons implying the Chinese government just doesn’t want them there) and things like the batman Y Unexplored taking out less than $25 million total.

Although Hollywood hopes that Jurassic World: Dominion can approximate the $225-$270 million gross of the last two jurassic world movies, it’s not a life or death proposition. jurassic world earned 13.5% of its $1.671 billion total from China and fallen kingdom he earned 20% of his $1.308 billion cume there. Save up for a few key franchises (the swift saga, the MonsterVerse, maybe/possibly Avatar)none of the upcoming franchise titles are dependent on China, which is a good thing because none of them can trust it. Poison earned $269 million in China for a cumulative $854 million, while Venom: Let There Be Carnage he didn’t play in China and still made $505 million on a $110 million budget. Doctor strange in the multiverse of madness did not need China to exceed 900 million dollars worldwide, and Top Gun: Maverick he didn’t need China to open above $300 million. Idem Spider-Man: No Way Home Y jester.

China has been mostly, except for flukes like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage Y Resident Evil: The Finale Chapter, a way for Hollywood studios to artificially inflate (since they only get 25% of gross receipts) the global box office totals of movies that are already successful. Avengers: Age of Ultron did not need its $300 million Chinese gross to exceed $1 billion, Transformers: Age of Extinction didn’t need his $300 million gross to spend $850 million and Avatar he didn’t need his Chinese record $205 million at the time to become the biggest global fundraiser in history. The resounding success of Top Gun: Maverick, a film once tailor-made for the Chinese push, hopefully proves once and for all that Hollywood doesn’t need to tailor its blockbusters for China any more than China should tailor its tents for us. The bad news is that they will need a new excuse as to why they are not more LGBTQIA friendly. I’m sure they will think of one.

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