When Top Gun: Maverick became a runaway hit in movie theaters last weekend, it wasn’t just the best opening for a Tom Cruise film in history, more than doubling his previous personal best. Maverick’s $156 million over the four-day weekend also became the biggest opening ever for a Memorial Day release, topping the previous mark set in 2007 by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
But that’s still not all. Those numbers also give Cruise another impressive (and kind of shocking) achievement. With Top Gun: Maverick, Cruise has had a number one movie at the U.S. box office in five consecutive decades starting in the 1980s, and continuing through the ’90s, 2000s, 2010s and now the 2020s.
Here’s the list of all of Cruise’s #1 hits, spanning from the year before the release of the first Top Gun all the way through the new sequel.
Tom Cruise’s #1 Box Office Hits By Decade
Tom Cruise has now had #1 box-office hits in five consecutive decades, from the 1980s to the 2020s.
Clearly, Cruise isn’t quite the level of star he once was, at least from a box office perspective. He had seven chart-topping hits in the 1990s — eight if you count Born on the 4th of July, which was technically released right at the end of 1989 but didn’t hit number one in theaters until the first weekend of January 1990. None of those films were sequels.
Compare that to the 2010s, where he had just four blockbuster hits, and three of those were continuations of his popular Mission: Impossible franchise, which has a large and loyal audience. (The fourth, it should be noted, was Oblivion, directed by Top Gun: Maverick’s Joseph Kosinski.) You could argue that Cruise’s drawing power today outside of Mission: Impossible and now Top Gun is severely diminished.
Still, there are very few movie stars in the entire history of cinema who can lay claim to this kind of longevity at the box office. John Wayne, for example, broke through with 1939’s Stagecoach and remained a powerful and consistent draw with audiences into the early 1970s, just a few years before his death. More than half a century after the Man With No Name Trilogy, Clint Eastwood had a $100 million hit three years ago with The Mule. But the list of other such multigenerational stars is very short.
The real test for Cruise will be these final two Mission: Impossible movies that he’s shooting right now, and even more than that, whatever comes after that successful franchise is retired. At that point, Cruise will be well into his 60s, having spent most of his previous 15 years churning out action pictures. What does he do then? And more importantly: Will audiences still flock to whatever that is?
Top Gun Easter Eggs in Top Gun: Maverick
Did you catch these callbacks to the original Top Gun in the sequel?