“Top Gun: Maverick” obliterated the competition at the U.S. box office this weekend, bringing in $124 million from 4,735 theaters.
What Happened: The Paramount PARAA release also soared globally, bringing in $248 million in worldwide ticket sales – excluding the Chinese and Russian markets, where the film is not scheduled for release. Variety noted this belated sequel to the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun” was the highest-grossing U.S. premiere engagement for star Tom Cruise’s career – his previous personal best was the 2005 “War of the Worlds,” which opened to $64 million.
“Top Gun: Maverick” soared past the Walt Disney Co.’s DIS “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which was the top grossing U.S. film for the last three weeks. “Doctor Strange” brought in $16.4 million from 3,805 theaters and has accumulated $375.4 million since opening, making it the top grossing U.S. release of the year to date.
The weekend’s only other new film nationwide release, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” from Disney’s 20th Century Studios unit, brought in $12.6 million from 3,425 theaters. Rounding out the top five grossing films of the weekend were “Downton Abbey: A New Era” from Comcast Corp.’s CMCSA Focus Features with $7.5 million from 3,830 theaters, and “The Bad Guys” from Comcast’s Universal Pictures with $4.63 million from 2,944 screens.
What Happens Next: It appears the Hollywood studios are giving “Top Gun: Maverick” a wide berth for its second week in release – no major films are opening in a nationwide distribution for this coming weekend.
Among the more notable limited release titles are David Cronenberg’s body horror film “Crimes of the Future” starring Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart, which is being distributed by Neon; Chloe Okuno’s Sundance-screened thriller “Watcher” starring Maika Monroe, which is going into theaters via IFC Midnight; and the Kino Lorber release of the musical science-fiction film “Neptune Frost,” which was filmed in Rwanda with Ezra Miller as a producer and Lin-Manuel Miranda as an executive producer (though neither is on camera).
Also Worth Noting: An Australian film projectionist is pushing the theory that a print of one of the most sought-after lost films of all time might be found somewhere in his country.
According to an article in the Australian newspaper The Age, Rob Murphy, the head film projectionist at the Sun Theatre in Yarraville, believes a copy of the 1927 Lon Chaney film “London After Midnight” could be in a private collection in Australia. Murphy noted that Australia was the most distant market where the Hollywood studios sent their output, and the shipping costs were so great that the studios often never bothered to have their prints sent back.
“Being in Australia, we were at the end of the distribution chains,” said Murphy. “So all the films would get dumped here because the studios in America didn’t want to pay for the freight to send them home. They’d get snapped up by projectionists or collectors or people who just worked in the cinema industry. So it means that many films now that have been lost are turning up in Australia.”
Murphy has a point – long-lost Hollywood films including the 1914 Theda Bara film “The Stain,” the 1930 Technicolor feature “Mamba” and the 1933 Technicolor short “Hello, Pop!” starring the Three Stooges were located in Australia after prints were nowhere to be found in Hollywood. Over in neighboring New Zealand, 75 American silent films that were thought to be lost forever were recovered in 2010 at the New Zealand Film Archive.
“If it’s going to be anywhere, it’s going to be here,” Murphy stated.
The last known extant copy of “London After Midnight” was believed to have been destroyed in a vault fire in the mid-1960s at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that produced the silent thriller. The film was directed by Tod Browning and starred Chaney in a double role as a Scotland Yard investigator and a creepy-looking character who might be a vampire.
Film collector Mike Trickett told The Age that Murphy’s hunch might prove accurate.
“We were seen as the end of the world in those days,” he said. “Everything was coming by ship, and they didn’t bother sending it back. A lot of people that worked in the film exchanges in those days were enthusiasts. While they were told in general to destroy the film, occasionally, thankfully, some prints got out the door.”
Photo: Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick," courtesy of Paramount
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