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Tom Cruise. Picture: CHRISTOPHER JUE/GETTY IMAGES FOR PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Tom Cruise. Picture: CHRISTOPHER JUE/GETTY IMAGES FOR PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Top Gun: Maverick had the biggest-ever theatrical debut for a Memorial Day weekend, lifting the spirits of cinema operators clawing their way back from the pandemic.

From its opening until Monday, the Paramount Pictures film brought in ticket sales of $160.5m in the US and Canada, researcher Comscore said, beating the old record held by the 2007 film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Imax, the pioneer in large theatre screens, had its best Memorial Day weekend, with $32.5m in ticket sales.

The figure raises the prospects for the first real summer moviegoing season since 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic. It also suggests the industry could recover 85%-90% of its previous high annual tickets sales of more than $11bn, Bloomberg Intelligence said on Tuesday.

The movie, a sequel to the 1986 film that cemented Tom Cruise’s star status, was also the biggest opening weekend for the actor. In its first three days, it made $126.7m in local theatres, double the performance of his second-best opening in 2005 with War of the Worlds, according to data from Comscore.

Paramount said older men drove ticket sales to the movie about fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Almost 60% of the audience was male and 55% of fans were older than 35 years, which appears to be due to their recalling the first Top Gun

Having a film about the US Navy’s flight school open over Memorial Day weekend probably helped draw moviegoers into theatres, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore. Box office estimates grew over the course of the weekend, suggesting word-of-mouth recommendations for the picture were strong.

Bloomberg News

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