Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick is sadly having its release date pushed back once again, but it’s actually a smarter move to do so. A cult classic since 1986, Top Gun is one property that surprisingly never received a follow-up. Finally in 2010, Paramount began development for a sequel to the beloved aviator action drama movie, with Tony Scott being approached to direct again before his death. Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer had been enthusiastic about reprising their roles since the beginning, so producer Jerry Bruckheimer still remained dedicated to getting the sequel made. After eight years in development, Top Gun: Maverick finally began filming in 2018, with a release date that was originally set for July 2019.
As a movie that’s been long awaited for 35 years, it was unfortunate that it happened to be one of the first upcoming films whose release date had to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, Top Gun: Maverick was set to be released on June 24, 2020 as a summer blockbuster. Along with plenty of other movies set for spring and summer 2020 releases, Top Gun: Maverick was pushed back to December 23, and again to July 2, 2021. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, trying to find a great slot for the movie became increasingly difficult, so Paramount decided to delay Top Gun‘s sequel even further, hoping for a popular Thanksgiving holiday release of November 19, 2021.
Alas, Top Gun: Maverick has delayed its release date for the fifth time, now being slated to open on May 27, 2022 for Memorial Day Weekend. Paramount has been very hesitant to place any of their films directly on streaming for higher prices rather than wait for an uncertain big opening theatrical release, with nearly all of their new releases being continually delayed over the past year. At the same time, Paramount holds a lot of projects that could be big money makers at the box office, with Top Gun: Maverick being a prime example. At a budget of $152 million and a star like Tom Cruise who won’t accept the film not being a splash in theaters, Paramount is making the right choice by delaying to set up a movie event for the Top Gun sequel.
With the high-quality slate of movies that Top Gun: Maverick was just going up against at the box office, the competition would have inevitably made the film less of a success than it could be. From October to December, plenty of big-budget, highly anticipated movies are being released, including Dune, No Time to Die, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Spiderman: No Way Home, Eternals, and House of Gucci. With such a stacked list of movies coming out all around the same time, each one is going to have its box office negatively impacted by the others. Not to mention box office numbers are significantly down from the COVID-19 pandemic anyways, so it was already going to be hard for Top Gun: Maverick to recuperate its losses from that standpoint. This is a type of movie that warrants a massive audience, so releasing it amid lower attendance in the pandemic and high competition isn’t the best way to accomplish such a feat.
Having to wait another 6 months for the new Top Gun to premiere isn’t exciting, but it does mean that it will most likely have a more celebrated, personal opening with less significant competition and a larger audience. On the other hand, Hollywood and most of the world believed the pandemic would already be long over by now, so there’s no telling whether a theatrical release in May 2022 will be any more normal. The way things are shaping up now, Tom Cruise’s franchise projects are still set to have an exciting summer 2022, with Top Gun: Maverick kicking off the season in May and Mission: Impossible 7 being delayed to clean up in September 2022.