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Top Gun: Maverick flies high as Tom Cruise's biggest box office debut

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Top Gun: Maverick soared to great heights at the box office during Memorial Day weekend, piloting a career best for star Tom Cruise.

The sequel to the 1986 epic that introduced pilot and Naval Fighter Weapons School student Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise) debuted at No. 1 at the domestic box office with $124 million, according to Comscore. It's looking at a projected $151 million by Monday.

Maverick marks Cruise's biggest theatrical opening to date as his first $100+ million debut. Prior to the sequel, the 2005 sci-fi action War of the Worlds ranked as Cruise's top domestic opening with $64.9 million, followed by 2018's Mission: Impossible - Fallout with $61.2 million.

In the nostalgia-tinged follow-up, Captain Pete Mitchell trains graduates for a special assignment while confronting the ghosts of his past. Val Kilmer reprises his role as Lieutenant Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, while Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Ed Harris, Jon Hamm, and Jay Ellis also star in director Joseph Kosinski's iteration.

Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick

Paramount Pictures Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick'

EW's Leah Greenblatt writes that the film "toggles deftly between winking callbacks and standard big-beat action stuff meant to stand on its own" in her B+ review. "Teller and Powell are breezily appealing, actors at the apex of their youth and beauty, though the movie still belongs in almost every scene to Cruise," Greenblatt writes.

"At this point in his career," she continues, Cruise "is not really playing characters so much as variations on a theme — the theme being, perhaps, The Last Movie Star. And in the air up there, he stands alone." The sequel is also the No. 1 movie at the global box office, earning a similar $124 million across 63 territories.

Elsewhere, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continued to conjure domestic box office magic at No. 2, earning an additional $16.4 million this weekend. It's followed by The Bob's Burgers Movie, which took a bite out of third place with a $12.6 million debut. Downton Abbey: A New Era and The Bad Guys rounded out the top five, earning an additional $5.9 million and $4.6 million, respectively.

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