'Top Gun: Maverick' Is Now the Biggest Military Movie Since 'American Sniper'

Tom Cruise returns in "Top Gun: Maverick." (Paramount)

'"Top Gun: Maverick'" once again set box office records during its second weekend in theaters. Tom Cruise's love letter to Navy aviation made an estimated $90 million in North American movie houses, bringing its total to a stunning $295.6 million from the domestic box office so far.

Add that to another $81.7 million from foreign markets, which makes the international total $257 million. Those numbers don't include totals from either China, where it's not been approved for release, nor Russia, which is being boycotted by Paramount Pictures due to the war in Ukraine.

Worldwide, the total now stands at $552 million with little sign that things are slowing down. "Top Gun: Maverick" is officially a phenomenon, one of those rare military films that becomes a mainstream cultural event.

Maybe it's not just Cruise. The younger generation of actors like Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Danny Ramirez and Greg Tarzan Davis are attracting their share of the attention, especially in the movie's beach football scene.

The last military movie to reach that status was "American Sniper," Clint Eastwood's 2014 movie about the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. That movie became a massive hit when it opened wide in January 2015 and rode that momentum to six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Bradley Cooper. The film won the award for Sound Editing.

The total domestic gross for "American Sniper" was $350 million. "Top Gun: Maverick" could surpass that number within the next week. Worldwide box office for "American Sniper" was $547.5 million, so "Top Gun: Maverick" has already topped that total.

Here are some more impressive numbers:

"Top Gun: Maverick" set an all-time record for smallest box office drop-off by a movie that opened with more than $100 million in its opening weekend. That 29% decline is a truly impressive number. Just look at a couple of other recent hits: "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" fell 67% and "The Batman" dropped 50% during their second weekends.

Tom Cruise has never had a movie this big in America. His previous box office peak was Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" movie, which tallied $243.3 million in 2005.

"Maverick" set a record by hitting 4,732 North American screens during its opening weekend. In week two, it actually broke that record by adding 19 more.

"Jurassic World: Dominion" arrives in U.S. theaters this weekend and will be taking over IMAX screens from "Top Gun: Maverick," so anyone who wants to see "TGM" in the large-screen format has only a few days left. As for the dinosaur effect on Maverick's box office numbers, the Chris Pratt-starring "Jurassic Park" sequel opened in 15 countries this past weekend and didn't do much damage to the "Top Gun" numbers.

Pratt will get his own shot at onscreen military glory next month when "The Terminal List" debuts on Prime Video. Based on the bestselling series by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, the show will feature Pratt as SEAL James Reece, a man determined to avenge the wrongs visited on his family and his team by shadowy forces.

Paramount executives should be looking at these "Top Gun" numbers and planning a big awards campaign for 2023. There aren't many movies that earn a projected billion dollars in box office, a 97% positive Rotten Tomatoes score from critics and an A+ Cinemascore rating from movie fans. If Hollywood really wants people to watch the Oscars again, nominating "Top Gun: Maverick" would be a really good start.

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