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Tom Cruise Reaches Biggest Opening Weekend Box Office of Career with Top Gun: Maverick

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Tom Cruise is reaching new heights with his long-awaited sequel.

Top Gun: Maverick, a follow-up to the 1986 original, earned an estimated $124 million at the domestic box office over the weekend, becoming Cruise's biggest opening weekend yet, according to Variety. It's also the movie star's first film to debut to more than $100 million, and, including Monday's holiday ticket sales, the Memorial Day weekend total is projected to be $151 million.

For Cruise, who also headlines the Mission: Impossible franchise, his highest opening weekend prior to Top Gun: Maverick was War of the Worlds, which took in $64 million upon its debut back in 2005.

At the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, the 59-year-old actor said he "never" considered doing a streaming release for Top Gun: Maverick, which had its big-screen rollout delayed because of the pandemic.

For more on Top Gun: Maverick, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

"That was never going to happen. Ever," said Cruise of the sequel's streaming-debut possibility. "I make movies for the big screen."

RELATED: Top Gun: Maverick Team Says Val Kilmer 'Was Thrilled' to Be Included in the Sequel

Top Cruise
Top Cruise

Dave J. Hogan/Getty

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Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the new film follows Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell 30 years after his graduation from TOPGUN Naval aviation program, when he is called back as an instructor for the elite fliers. Among his young charges is Lt. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his late best friend Goose (Anthony Edwards in the first movie).

Teller, 35, is among the actors cast as a new class of pilots, which includes Glen PowellGreg Tarzan Davis, Jay Ellis, Monica Barbaro and Lewis Pullman. Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm also star, and Val Kilmer reprises his role from the original.

Cruise did his best to warn the new recruits about the flying stunts they'd be performing in the film. "I was very clear in the beginning: 'This is what it's going to be like. It's not for everyone,' " he recently told PEOPLE for a Top Gun special edition. "I want people to enjoy the experience. 'If you don't want to be involved, totally, I understand.' "

Said Pullman, 29, of Cruise, "Every one of the pilots has a story of him talking about what he thinks is great about them, what they can do with that quality. He teaches you, basically, how Tom Cruise became Tom Cruise."

Top Gun: Maverick is now playing in theaters.