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'Top Gun: Maverick' nears $1.3 billion worldwide: Here's how it became the first billion-dollar movie in Tom Cruise's 40-year career

Tom Cruise attends the London premiere of "Top Gun: Maverick."
Karwai Tang | Wireimage | Getty Images

"Top Gun: Maverick" took to the skies in late May and hasn't looked back. Tom Cruise's latest release is now the ninth-highest grossing movie of all time at the domestic box office.

"Maverick," the sequel to the hit 1986 film "Top Gun," has grossed nearly $650 million in the US alone, a feat that has only been accomplished by a handful of other films.

Just last week, "Maverick" blew past 2012's "The Avengers" to take sole possession of ninth place on the list, and is within striking distance to pass No. 8 "Jurassic World" and seventh place "Titanic," according to data from Box Office Mojo.

The top 10 highest-grossing movies at domestic box office

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936.6M)
  2. Avengers: Endgame ($858.3M) 
  3. Spider-Man: No Way Home ($804.7M)
  4. Avatar ($760.5M)
  5. Black Panther ($700.4M)
  6. Avengers; Infinity War ($678.8M)
  7. Titanic ($659.3M)
  8. Jurassic World ($653.4M)
  9. Top Gun: Maverick ($635.5M as of July 25, 2022)
  10. The Avengers ($623.3M)

'Top Gun: Maverick' is the first billion-dollar movie in Tom Cruise's career

Despite blockbuster hits like the long-running "Mission: Impossible" franchise and 2005's "War of the Worlds," "Top Gun: Maverick" is the first film in Tom Cruise's 40-year-career to gross more than $1 billion globally.

Cruise, who has been a proponent of getting movie lovers back in cinemas and who recorded a thank you video that played before certain "Maverick" showings, last month thanked fans "for venturing out and allowing us to entertain you."

These are Tom Cruise's 10 highest-grossing movies

  1. Top Gun: Maverick ($1.28B as of July 25, 2022) 
  2. Mission: Impossible – Fallout ($791.6M)
  3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol ($694.7M) 
  4. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($682.7M)
  5. War of the Worlds ($603.8M) 
  6. Mission: Impossible II ($546.3M) 
  7. Mission: Impossible ($457.6M) 
  8. The Last Samurai ($454.6M)
  9. The Mummy ($409.2M)
  10. Mission: Impossible III ($398.5M)

The success of 'Maverick' took Hollywood by surprise

There are a confluence of factors that came together to fuel "Maverick's" rise, according to Jeff Bock, a media analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co.

On top of glowing critical reviews and Cruise's ability to draw a crowd at the movies, "Maverick" contended with far fewer competitors than a traditional summer blockbuster.

"There just wasn't a lot of product out there," Bock says. "Films that were well received, that had good word of mouth, have really stuck around longer."

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The only competition "Maverick" had to face on its May 27 release was "The Bob's Burgers Movie" which, with a $34 million haul over the past two months, failed to make back its budget.

One thing that has made "Maverick's" box office performance stand out to industry experts is how steady its ticket sales have been compared to other big films. While most blockbusters see their ticket sales drop as much as 60% between their first and second weeks, "Maverick" dropped less than 30%, and kept its drops "in the teens and 20s and 30s" from week to week, according to Bock.

"What Top Gun did was hold that audience week in and week out, which we just haven't seen in the blockbuster era," he says.

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