Box Office: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Is The Biggest Action Movie Since ‘The Dark Knight’

Tom Cruise portrays Capt. Tom Cruise plays Capt.

Paramount and Skydance’s Top Gun have surpassed the inflation-adjusted domestic sum of Tim Burton’s Batman ($251 million in 1989/$576m adjusted) and Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles$120 million (1974/$578m adjusted) to become the 56th most prominent North American ticket seller. Non-fantastical movies don’t have superpowers, wizards, or dinosaurs. It is an action-adventure movie that sits between (depending on your definition of action movies) 9th and 6th. It has sold more tickets in real-world action dramas than any Hollywood movie since The Dark Knight. This is a bit ironic, considering Chris Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman/Joker epic (a massive-scale drama mostly about city politics) was one of the first movies in comic books to emulate established action genres.

Where TOP GUN: Maverick ranks among the highest-grossing action flicks…

Top Gun: Maverick is currently in the back (loosely defined as a non-fantastical action movie). You may have a different definition of an “action movie.”

The second-half of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws has its fair share of “three terrified men fighting a shark while on a boat in the middle of the ocean” action sequences. Beverly Hills Coppens in a chaotic vehicle chase. The film ends with Eddie Murphy and his friends invading the lousy guy’s mansion and massacring them all. Around the World may seem a bit too ambitious, but Maverick will surpass that film’s adjusted gross by Sunday evening. It’ll exceed Beverly Hills Copin a week and a half and may beat the Robert Redford/Paul Newman action comedy western at the end of July unless it dies. It will likely continue to grow and surpass $600 million by Sunday or Tuesday.

The Dark Knight is one of the first movies that attempted genre appropriation.

To become the ninth-largest unadjusted domestic grosser, it will surpass The Last Jedi ($620 million) and The Avengers ($623 million). If you think about action movies, whether fantastical or not, as “the hero” fighting off “the villains with fights, shootouts, vehicle combats, and other carnage, then this movie will be the ninth biggest unadjusted domestic grosser. Top Guns is the largest non-fantastical offering since Chris Nolan’s direct real-world Batman/Joker sequel 14 years ago. This film was revolutionary not only because it was an action thriller but also because of its piercing moral melodrama. This was a pioneering example of superhero cinema emulating genre filmmaking. It stands out today as one of few movies that fully commits to the film (it’s a movie first and a superhero second), right up to the epilogue where the “two guilt-ridden heroes are atop rubble asking for mercy.”

Kevin Feige was known for selling post-AvengersMCU movies, which featured superheroes in various genres. He sold Captain Americans, an action thriller, Ant-Manas a heist movie, and Spider-Man Homecomingas comedy for teens. This was smart and not wholly inaccurate. This helped to diversify the MCU and DC Films comics flicks and made these films stand out amongst the rest of their competition. Solo and the Mummy, which were remade to be conventional superhero origin stories, are better than the original. It soon became “Why to watch a Western when you can see Logan?” and “Why watch King Arthur & the Legend of the Sword even though you can also watch Aquaman?”

Top Gun was the first actioner in real life to challenge MCU/DC flicks since Furious7.

Tom Cruise’s Top Gun, Maverick is a rare example of moviegoers turning out in large numbers to get the real deal. This is not the only example. Skyfall earned $304 million domestically in 2012. The Fast Saga has grown in popularity since Fast Five took it to A-level action spectacle territory in the summer of 2011. This culminated in the $353million-grossing Furious 7in 2015, just months after American Sniper earned $350 million domestic. Skyfall was a decade ago. Moviegoers have largely abandoned all genre movies in favor of the Marvel/DC superhero films over the past several years. Yes, studios are to blame as well as the audiences. The theatrical product has been there for weeks, in all genres.

This is either a positive sign or a bottle of water in a hot desert. Doctor Strange and The Batman*and* Top Gun. It’s not all the fault of superhero cinema since Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible II was the last action movie with a real-world setting to take the top spot at the global box office in 2020 (with $545m). Even so, it lost the domestic crown in the face of The Grinch’s $260 million-grossing film. Frodo Baggins and Harry Potter occupied the top spot in the food chain, followed by Optimus Prime, Spider-Man, and Frodo Baggins. Iron Man and The Dark Knight dominated summer 2008. It has been a long time since non-fantastical heroes ruled the domestic box office (or even worldwide).

Does Top Gang: Maverick represent a shift or just lightning in a bottle in movie going habits?

It was almost a miracle that Cruise’s Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol made $209 million domestically and $694 million globally in 2011. This was just a year before The Avengers. Fast Five also earned $210 million/$610million, along with the $350-$380m/$1.1-$1.3billion Transformers 3 and Harry Potter 7. In a sad irony, 2020’s slate was to be dominated by the less fantastical like F9, No Time to Die, and Bad Boys for Life. They would be able to thrive alongside the more imaginative Sonic the Hedgehog and Wonder Woman 1984. Real-world actioners would see a return to Pete Mitchell, James Bond, and Mike Slattery.

Top Gun – Maverick is one of the most awaited 2020 releases from Covid. It certainly lives up to (well… way beyond) its pre-Covid promise. The extent to which Joseph Kosinski’s film has been received by profoundly uninformed audiences (varying geographicalaside), Black Panther, The Passion of the Christ & American Sniper is unlikely to be duplicated. The robust domestic business of Elvisshowing an older/irregular audience wanted an Elvis biopic rather than a renewed interest in old-school theatres was similar. It could indicate that there are other options for non-fantastical actors outside of the (often impressively impressive) VOD world if Bullet Trainreigns in August and Johnwick: Chapter 4continues to rise next March. This would be miracle number 2.

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Samatha Vale
Samatha a senior writer for HC's entertainment team. She is an entreprenuer, mother and an excellent writer. She's also an avid reader, music enthusiast and all around inquisitive person - which is just a nice way of saying she's nosy.

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