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“Top Gun” is back.
After a two-year delay, “Top Gun: Maverick” is hitting theaters across the world Friday. The release of the action movie figures to be a big moment for box office recovery during the coronavirus pandemic.
The film’s star, Tom Cruise, is expected to have his biggest career opening, with a four-day gross of at least $92 million, per official tracking. Cruise’s 2005 “War of the Worlds” holds the spot for his top domestic opening with a three-day gross of $64.9 million.
Cruise’s second-best movie opening was “Mission Impossible — Fallout,” released in 2018. According to Comscore, the movie hit $61.2 million. All the star’s other films opened with less than $60 million.
TOM CRUISE ARRIVES TO ‘TOP GUN’ SEQUEL PREMIERE IN SAN DIEGO VIA HELICOPTER
“Top Gun: Maverick” hits theaters 36 years after the original “Top Gun” was released in 1986. Cruise has been heavily marketing his newest movie by attending premieres in San Diego, the Cannes Film Festival, a royal screening in London and a premiere in Japan.
For the San Diego premiere, Cruise arrived in a helicopter. The 59-year-old movie star’s helicopter touched down on the retired USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego. The helicopter was emblazoned with Cruise’s name and the “Top Gun: Maverick” logo.
Cruise, dressed in a suit and wearing aviators, waved to fans as he exited the helicopter.
From the beginning, Cruise made it clear that “Top Gun: Maverick” would “never” hit the streaming services, despite the two-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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“Maverick” was initially supposed to be released in July 2019 through Paramount Pictures but was postponed in August 2018 “to allow the production to work out all the complex flight sequences,” according to Deadline.
When asked if he felt pressure to release the film in any capacity on a streaming network, Cruise assured it would “never” happen.
“That was not going to happen ever,” he said while laughing in excerpts published by The Hollywood Reporter. “That was never going to happen.”
He recalled picking up a phone and dialing each cast member every time the movie’s release date was pushed back to reassure everyone to remain calm and stay focused on what they created.
Cruise remembered telling his co-stars, “Don’t worry, this is going to happen.”
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Days before the worldwide shutdown in March 2020, Paramount moved the film up two days early for a release on June 24, 2020, but that was subsequently pushed back to Dec. 23. In July 2020, the film received another new schedule change by one year due to the coronavirus, Cruise’s schedule and “Mulan” and “Tenet” being scheduled for release on the same days.
The studio’s scheduling woes continued when the film was pushed back again in April 2021 for a November release and again in September 2021, when executives finally landed on the May 27, 2022, date.
In the film, directed by Joseph Kosinski, there’s a new mission to win and dogfights to wage. But this time, the task of “Top Gun” feels even weightier. It’s here to prove in a CGI, Marvel world that a propulsive brand of movie making fueled by star power, practical effects and filmmaking prowess can still summon the need for speed.
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“Top Gun: Maverick” premieres worldwide on Friday.
Fox News’ Tracy Wright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.