Tom Cruise's Flight To Stardom After Top Gun
When the words "movie" and "star" are combined, a few names and faces are likely to spring to mind. Tom Cruise is sure to be at the top of that list in North America and around the world. Since his breakout role in Risky Business in 1983, Tom Cruise has been a brand in and of himself. In truth, Top Gun (1986) is the movie that catapulted him to superstardom.
During the summer of 1986, a movie about a crew of elite fighter pilots debuted in theaters, and like the Energizer Bunny, it kept going and going until, by the end of that summer, it became evident that Cruise was more than simply a star with potential—he had the promise to be in a league of his own. Now that Top Gun: Maverick (2022) has finally arrived in theaters, it's safe to conclude that Cruise is truly a one-of-a-kind actor.
This is a good time to look back to the original Top Gun, which was never supposed to star Tom Cruise in the first place but ended up being a huge hit in a way that would never happen today. It also set the stage for the long run of successes for Cruise that has lasted for the last three decades or so, with only the occasional misfire in that time period as well. Let's get right to it, then.
Hollywood was very much impacted by the events of the 1980s because of the ongoing Cold War. Also, it meant that movies made at the time were likely to have an anti-Soviet attitude in them. It's no different with Top Gun (1986). He was given maybe the most defining role of his career by way of the film. Could he be Ethan Hunt without the success of Top Gun? Would he have been nominated for three Oscars? It's difficult to say. We know for a fact that Cruise was not the first option to play Maverick, despite his burgeoning stardom at the time. After the death of Matthew Modine, the Taps (1981) star was able to play Maverick.
He had already appeared in films like Private School (1983) and Vision Quest (1985) before being offered the part in one of the most popular '80s blockbusters. In light of this, why did Modine turn down the lead part in a Tony Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer production? A very different kind of war film, Full Metal Jacket, (1987) directed by Stanley Kubrick, was his top choice. The actor elaborated in a 2020 interview, saying: "I wanted to tell the story about human behavior and what the war does to individuals, our youth and how the scars that people receive from combat are not always physical. I thought it was a much more important story to me than telling the story about pointing the finger at the Russians and saying that they were the bad guy."
It's safe to say that Modine has had a successful career since Full Metal Jacket. It's impossible to argue that he made the wrong decision, but it's just that his choice allowed Cruise to have the grand opportunity.. What's on the other side? This is a level of fame and fortune that only a very small percentage of people on this planet have ever experienced.
On May 16, 1986, Top Gun opened in North American theaters, playing to a limited audience of slightly over 1,000 people. According to the critics at the time, the film received mixed reviews and the film's opening weekend box office reflects that. Short Circuit (1986) and The Money Pit (1986) were beaten to the top of the box office by a measly $8.1 million for the film's opening weekend. This is still only about $21 million in today's money, which is hardly a large smash by summer blockbuster standards, even once inflation is taken into account However, word-of-mouth soon took over, and the picture launched off on its ludicrously successful summer journey.
In the present era, you can expect to see a new big-budget film every other weekend. The drops are quite severe and difficult to bear. The 1980s, on the other hand, were a completely different era, with movies playing in cinemas for months on end and attracting audiences week after week. With Top Gun that's exactly what transpired. In fact, the following Memorial Day weekend, it actually boosted its earnings from $8 million to $9 million. For the most part, the weekly declines were less than 10%. An ode to the golden era of rock and roll.
Top Gun has grossed a total of $357.4 million domestically and internationally, with $180 million of that coming from domestic ticket sales and $177 million from overseas sales. That's an incredible return on investment, especially when you consider the film's stated $15 million production costs. Because of Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone," the soundtrack to the film has sold more than 12 million copies since it was released that summer. Inflation-adjusted, the film is still Cruise's most successful domestically at roughly $460 million. Cruise became a global star capable of drawing in crowds throughout the world, something he continues to do as well as anyone today.