Much-anticipated action film "Top Gun: Maverick" was expected to have a big opening and it did not disappoint, taking in an estimated $151 million in North America for the four-day Memorial Day weekend, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported.
Viewers had to wait 36 years to see the sequel to the original "Top Gun," but critics say the Paramount/Skydance production was worth the wait, with some calling it superior to the original film.
"The source material remains strong, the execution is excellent, and Tom Cruise makes it work impeccably well," said analyst David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research.
The film — whose release had been delayed two years by the COVID-19 pandemic — notched $124 million for the first three days of the holiday weekend and took in the same amount overseas, despite not playing in China or Russia. It was Cruise's first opening to top $100 million.
He again plays cocky (if grayer) navy test pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, now a captain, as he trains to bomb a rogue nation's uranium enrichment facility. A strong supporting cast includes Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller and Jon Hamm; original "Top Gun" veteran Val (Iceman) Kilmer appears briefly.
Slipping a notch to second place was "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which in its fourth weekend took in $16.4 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period and $21.1 million for the full four days.
The Disney film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, had opened to a year's best $187 million.
In third spot was 20th Century's new "Bob's Burgers Movie." The animated film, based on a popular television show, earned $12.6 million for three days and $15 million for four.
Focus Features' "Downton Abbey: A New Era" took fourth place, with $5.9 million for three days and $7.5 million for four. Based on the hugely popular British series, it again stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery.
And in fifth was Universal's family-friendly animation "The Bad Guys," at $4.6 million for three days and $6.1 million for four.
Rounding out the top 10 were:
"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" ($2.5 million for three days; $3.1 million for four)
"Everything Everywhere All at Once" ($2.5 million; $3.1 million)
"The Lost City" ($1.8 million; $2.3 million)
"Men" ($1.2 million; $1.5 million)
"Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" ($905,000; $1.1 million)
Source: Voice of America