A perfect storm of mega-franchises converging on summer’s unofficial start led to a sensational box office and TV ratings haul over the long Memorial Day weekend. Enticed by Tom Cruise, Tatooine, and the Upside-Down — a theatrical and TV triple-threat if ever there was one — fans turned out in droves to set new viewership records all around.
Top Gun: Maverick soared in theaters through its hugely-anticipated May 27 debut weekend, raking in a Memorial Day box office record of $160 million in the U.S. and $300 million worldwide, via the number-crunchers at Box Office Mojo. Amazingly, the 36-year wait for Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise) to get airborne once more didn’t score that kind of success in an entertainment vacuum, either: Top Gun: Maverick buzzed the box office for Paramount even as fans voraciously binged on other entertainment, signaling that maybe movie theaters and streaming TV screens really can coexist…even when the schedule’s packed.
When they weren’t flying to the movies over the weekend, tons of viewers were still strapped into their seats back at home, thanks to the twin debuts of Obi-Wan Kenobi at Disney+ and Stranger Things 4 at Netflix. Though Disney+ hasn’t shared official numbers, both streamers announced record-setting viewership for their tentpole franchises, with Netflix reporting 286.79 million viewing hours for the May 25, seven-episode premiere of Stranger Things 4 Volume 1, according to Deadline.
Even without providing detailed viewership data, Disney+ served up similar superlatives for the premiere-week performance of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The weekend premiere window following the May 27 debut of the limited Star Wars series’ first two episodes lifted Old Ben’s self-imposed desert exile to become “the most-watched Disney+ original series premiere globally to date, based on hours streamed in an opening weekend,” reports Deadline.
For both Netflix and Disney+, the pair of big premieres also had a ripple effect: Fans boosted the platforms’ viewership numbers for previously-released series and seasons in the Star Wars and Stranger Things universes over the weekend — when, that is, they weren’t glued to the new stuff.
While Top Gun: Maverick will enjoy a long vapor trail of moviegoers in the coming weeks to pad its already-impressive box office numbers, both streamers also have more in store for their respective record-setting series. New episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are arriving each Wednesday through its June 22 finale, while the final two episodes of Stranger Things 4 arrive to tie together the new season’s cliffhanger events in Hawkins (and in Russia) on July 1.
Looking for more sci-fi TV? The entire run of SYFY’s Battlestar Galactica is streaming now on Peacock, along with the second season of Resident Alien, which returns to SYFY this fall with new episodes.