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SEQUEL BAIT

After Maverick’s success, get ready for the “Top Gun universe”

Tom Cruise flying in a fighter jet in in "Top Gun: Maverick"
Skydance Media/Paramount Pictures
Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in “Top Gun: Maverick”
  • Adario Strange
By Adario Strange

Media & entertainment reporter based in New York

Published Last updated

This weekend, Top Gun: Maverick became the highest earning film of 2022, surpassing Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Surprisingly, given Tom Cruise’s long list of past successes, this is the first movie in his career to cross the rare $1 billion mark in global box office sales.

The film, which is a sequel to the original Top Gun of 1986, was originally slated to debut in 2019, but was moved to 2020 due to production delays. Then came the pandemic lockdowns, which prompted Paramount Pictures to push the release of the film to 2021, and finally to the May of 2022. 

Despite the logistical hurdles that plagued the film, it turns out the postponement may have been exactly what Hollywood needed to inspire moviegoers to return to theaters en masse. 

Paramount Pictures has just reloaded its Tom Cruise sequel machine

What the success of Top Gun: Maverick means for Cruise and his fellow cast members is that Paramount Pictures will almost certainly set up a string of new sequels that explore the lives and challenges faced by the characters in the film’s Naval Fighter Weapons School. In addition to Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick brings a host of young new acting talent to fore, led by Miles Teller (Whiplash, Fantastic Four). 

REUTERS/Heo Ran
Tom Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer (fourth from left) with the cast of “Top Gun: Maverick” in Seoul, South Korea.

It’s hard to imagine Cruise wouldn’t stick around for the new sequels in some capacity—but if not, franchise newcomers like Jon Hamm, Monica Barbaro, Glen Powell, and Jay Ellis could turn Top Gun into an ensemble, long-running series of films, a Fast & Furious in the sky.  The film’s characters even come with handy nicknames, which could follow Cruise’s “Maverick” handle as subsequent installment titles—think Top Gun: Phoenix (Barbaro’s call sign), or Top Gun: Payback (Ellis’s call sign).

Shades of Mission: Impossible

So far, Cruise’s longest running film series is the Mission: Impossible franchise, which kicked off in 1996. Since then, nearly every film in the series has either surpassed or just about matched the success of the previous installment.

Paramount has two more Mission: Impossible films scheduled for release, Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One in 2023 and Part Two in 2024. While the spy franchise has been a reliable box office winner for the studio in the past, sources have indicated that the next two films may be the last in the series, perfectly setting up Top Gun to become Cruise’s new franchise focus moving forward. 

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