Top Gun: Maverick becomes first tentpole to eject from 2021 amid Delta surge

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Top Gun: Maverick becomes first tentpole to eject from 2021 amid Delta surge

Top Gun: Maverick is hoping to escape the danger zone.

The long-awaited follow-up to Tom Cruise's 1986 flyboy classic is pulling out of its Nov. 19, 2021, release date and landing on May 27, 2022. The move causes a Cruise ripple effect, with fellow Paramount tentpole Mission: Impossible 7 now headed for Sept. 30, 2022, having previously held the May 27 slot. (Also exiting 2021 is Jackass Forever, which will open Feb. 4, 2022).

This is the fourth delay for Top Gun: Maverick since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but more urgently, it's the first major movie to bail on a fall 2021 release amid the Delta variant surge. It's likely that many studios will be closely monitoring this weekend's turnout for Disney and Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. While some big upcoming releases, like Warner Bros'. Dune and The Matrix: Resurrections, are covered with a simultaneous streaming release, movies like Disney and Marvel's Eternals and Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man: No Way Home have all their eggs in the box office basket.

Scott Garfield/Paramount Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick'

Meanwhile, Cruise is now lined up for a monster 2022, should these changes hold and more moviegoers feel comfortable returning to the multiplex. By the time Maverick and M:I7 are released, it will have been four years since his last film, Mission: Impossible — Fallout. Cruise hasn't been the box office draw that he once was, but his long-running spy franchise has become a worldwide success that he can keep returning to, knowing both that fans will show up and he'll get the chance to risk his life. And we're not just talking about when he went to see Tenet.

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