Tom Cruise aims to fly high at the box office with ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

Yet there is Mr. Cruise, walking as if the world hasn’t changed at all. For him, in many ways, this is not the case. He was 24 when “Top Gun” made him box office royalty and he’s basically stayed there ever since, outliving his contemporaries. He is the last remaining world star who still only makes movies for theaters. He did not venture into streaming. He did not sign for a limited series. He didn’t launch his own brand of tequila.

Instead, his promotional tour for “Top Gun: Maverick,” which kicks off May 27, will last nearly three weeks and stretch from Mexico City to Japan with a stop in Cannes for the annual film festival. In London, he walked the red carpet with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. (The tour would have been longer and more expansive if Covid protocols hadn’t made things so complicated and he wasn’t finishing two “Mission Impossible” films.)

The actor always commands top dollar gross, which means that in addition to a large upfront payment, he receives a percentage of the box office gross from the time the film hits theaters. He is one of the last Hollywood stars to land such a deal, buoyed by the fact that his 44 films have grossed $4.4 billion at the box office in the United States and Canada alone, according to Box Office. Mojo. (Most stars today get paid up front, with bonuses if a movie brings in certain amounts at the box office.) So if his movies hit, Mr. Cruise makes money. And right now, Hollywood desperately needs a hit.

Audiences have started returning to theaters since the pandemic shuttered them in 2020. Box office analyst David Gross said major Hollywood studios are expected to release around 108 films in theaters this year, down from 22 % compared to 2019. Total box office numbers for the year are still down around 40%, but recent performances of “The Batman” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” have made owners optimistic about audience demand. The question is whether the company still works for anything other than special effects-laden superhero movies.

“They just don’t make movies like this anymore,” Brian Robbins, the new chief executive of Paramount Pictures, the studio that financed and produced the $170 million “Top Gun: Maverick,” said in an interview. “It’s not a big visual effects movie. Tom really trained these actors to fly and perform in real F-18s. Hardly anyone has ever done what they did in this movie. It has scale and scope, and it’s also a very moving film. That’s not usually what we see in big tentpole movies today.

A big box office showing for “Top Gun: Maverick” would largely depend on the over-40 crowd. It’s moviegoers who most fondly remember the original “Top Gun” from 36 years ago – and they’ve been the most reluctant to return to theaters.

To reinforce his commitment to the industry, Mr. Cruise sent a video message to theater operators at their annual conference in Las Vegas late last month. From filming ‘Mission Impossible’ in South Africa, standing atop an airborne biplane, Mr. Cruise showed off new footage from his spy film and the first public screening of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. “Let’s have a great summer,” he said, before his manager, piloting his own biplane alongside Mr Cruise, shouted “action” and the two planes took off into the sky.

Kimberly B. Nguyen