Tom Cruise’s all-American blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick” has begun its box office flight, taking in $19.3 million on Thursday.

The large Thursday haul marks the biggest preview for Paramount Pictures and the highest preview for the Memorial Day holiday. Of the $19.3 million, Imax screens accounted for $4.1 million, or 21.2% of the overall amount. The figure sets a best-ever mark for a Paramount title and a Tom Cruise movie, and it’s in the top 10 Imax results of all time.

The long-delayed sequel to 1986’s “Top Gun” could become the first movie of Cruise’s career to open to $100 million. Thanks to positive reviews, high anticipation and heaps of nostalgia, “Top Gun: Maverick,” co-produced and co-financed by Skydance, is projected to rake in $85 million to $100 million over the long Memorial Day weekend.

Paramount was originally supposed to open “Top Gun: Maverick” in the summer of 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans and scrambled its takeoff. Two years later, the tentpole finally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where crowds of movie-lovers lined up to see the star in action. During a wide-ranging discussion about his career at the festival, Cruise assured fans that “Maverick” was meant for the big screen. Unlike so many other big-budget films that were scheduled to release during the pandemic, Cruise says his follow-up to “Top Gun” was never going to debut on streaming.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with theater owners. The people that serve the popcorn, the ones who make this [happen],” he said. He also called theater owners to say, “Please, I know what you’re going through. Just know we are making ‘Mission: Impossible,’ and ‘Top Gun’ is coming out.”

Simply put: “I make movies for the big screen,” Cruise said.

For those avoiding the danger zone, Disney and 20th Century’s “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” is also releasing this weekend. The animated comedy, based on the popular Fox series, cooked up $1.5 million in Thursday previews, and it’s projected to earn $10 million to $15 million in its opening.