Tom Cruise has the biggest hit of his long career with Top Gun: Maverick. The long-awaited Top Gun sequel has made over $1 billion at the global box office, with about half of that coming from domestic ticket sales. It’s one of the few movies to put up such big numbers post-pandemic. As one might expect, Tom Cruise will be one of the people who benefits from that success, with tens of millions more going in his own pocket. He’s going to need a few jets to haul that cash away.
These days it's become commonplace for stars to work out significant deals that see the majority of their compensation come from a movie’s receipts. The star has the ability to make more money than they likely would otherwise, while the studio gets the benefit of not needing to pay stars as much up front, and not at all if the profits from the movie end up slim. While the process led to some issues during the pandemic, and even a lawsuit against Disney from Scarlett Johansson, it can also mean big money. Big is relative of course, as Puck News reports Tom Cruise was still paid $12.5 million up front to make the Top Gun sequel upfront.
However, the backend part of the deal reportedly gives Tom Cruise ten percent of the movie's first-dollar gross, and that percentage goes even higher as the movie hits different box office milestones. With the film now having exceeded $1 billion one can guess it has hit at least some of those milestones.
Exactly how much Tom Cruise will make is far from clear. We'll likely never know for sure, but estimates are around $55 million on top of his salary if Paramount's revenue intake ends up roughly around the $600 million mark after splitting intake with theaters.
Hollywood accounting is famously weird and intentionally confusing. One assumes that top dollar gross here means the gross profit of what the studio takes in, not the box office gross. And how much the studio gets is not set. It's more percentage-wise domestically than internationally and the international take varies by country. But whatever Cruise makes here, it’s going to be quite significant. It’s almost certainly the biggest payday ever for Cruise, a star who rarely if ever has an issue making money.
Top Gun: Maverick was one of those movies that a lot of people had been hoping to see come to fruition for decades. The original was the movie that made Tom Cruise a household name and no matter how much time had passed since it was released, there always seemed to be interest in a Top Gun sequel. And yet, it’s still a little shocking that Top Gun: Maverick has been as successful as it has been in this era where people are just starting to return to the theater.
While we’ve seen that theater audiences will turn out in massive numbers for the right film, a lot of franchises have continued to suffer at the box office following the pandemic. Generations have been born since the first Top Gun, and it wasn’t entirely clear if they held the movie in the same high regard. Based on the numbers, it’s now safe to say that they do. You don’t make a billion dollars at the box office, and become the highest-grossing movie ever for Tom Cruise, by only appealing to Gen X nostalgia.
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