Top Gun 2’s Opening Weekend
I have to admit that I was dubious about the commercial prospects of a Top Gun 2 when I first heard that this project was finally and really moving out of the “development hell” in which it has been so long mired and into actual production.
After all (as we might be forgetting amid the rapturous critical reception and the boffo B.O.) the original movie was very much of its moment, a movie its own fans regard as fairly described as a 2-hour Navy recruiting ad of and for the blatantly jingoistic, pop militarism-soaked mid-’80s. (Top Gun hit the screen about a year after Rambo: First Blood Part II.) And of course, the current state of the box office has not been helpful. (Certainly some recent movies did as well as they would have been likely to pre-pandemic, as with Spider-man: No Way Home. But earnings remain less predictable than usual, and often enough weaker than they might have at other times, with this underlined by the haste to hail The Batman as a hit it seems movies’ commercial performances are still being graded on a curve, all as the pandemic’s resurgence yet again likely affording new grounds for that.)
The result is that a Top Gun 2 seemed a piece of ’80s nostalgia coming in a moment in which this kind of nostalgia is on the receiving end of a fairly vicious backlash (remember the sheer vehemence of the reaction against Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One?); after what seem like two decades of intensive mining ’80s nostalgia, love it or hate it, has been pretty well played out; after nearly four decades of virtually zero follow-up to this particular piece of such nostalgia, which appeared before half the country was born — while, by the way, the older audience that one might expect to disproportionately account for ticket sales remains leerier than others of the theater. One may also wonder whether a public generally recognized as sick of war, and much of which seems aloof from, and perhaps alienated by, the media’s hawkish line on the war in Ukraine, is up for a second edition of what Top Gun had to sell. (Indeed, there was a time when star Tom Cruise himself had deemed the idea of the very movie he is offering “irresponsible.”) And as if all that were not enough there is the reality that Cruise is not the draw he once was (in fairness, no one is in these post-star system days), while action movies have moved on, enough so that anything remotely like what the original offered four decades ago would probably not satisfy the “need for speed” of today’s audience.
Nevertheless, in spite of all that Top Gun: Maverick has proven a colossal hit, with a $124 million day 3-day haul, and an even stronger $156 million when one takes into account the whole of the Memorial Day weekend. Where this is concerned the media certainly did its part, being very much pro- Maverick. (Indeed, thinking about what I have seen of the reviews I find myself much reminded of the way it seemed critics seemed to cast aside whatever critical faculties and artistic standards they had to cheer-lead for the first Iron Man.) However, it seems undeniable that, on whatever terms it took it (whether totally buying into it, or just enjoying it as a piece of flashy superficial nostalgia irrelevant to how they see things now), the public was receptive to the film — enough so that it is virtually certain to prove a solid blockbuster by any reasonable measure.
Originally published at https://raritania.blogspot.com.