Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise reunited at this year’s Oscar nominees luncheon, where the blockbuster filmmaker praised his “Minority Report” and “War of the Worlds” actor for saving the theatrical movie business with “Top Gun: Maverick.” Both Spielberg and Cruise are in the running for best picture this year thanks to “The Fabelmans” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” respectively.
“You saved Hollywood’s ass and you might have saved theatrical distribution,” Spielberg said to Cruise in a video originally shared on Instagram by director Kartiki Gonsalves, whose film “The Elephant Whisperers” is nominated for best documentary short film. Cruise was left blushing.
Spielberg added, “Seriously, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ might have saved the entire theatrical industry.”
“Top Gun: Maverick” was the second movie to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office amid the pandemic, following “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” With a $1.48 billion gross, “Maverick” ranks as the 11th highest-grossing movie in history worldwide (unadjusted for inflation). The film is the fifth-highest grosser at the domestic box office with $718 million.
Although “No Way Home” grossed more, that was a Marvel movie with three generations of Spider-Man actors in it. Although “Maverick” is a sequel, its success was hardly preordained. Yet the follow-up to 1986’s “Top Gun” became a rare old-fashioned hit that legged out at the box office for months based on worth of mouth. According to Paramount, repeat customers fueled the momentum for “Maverick.” By its fourth weekend in North American movie theaters, 16% of the audience had returned more than once and 4% had returned three times or more.
As Variety’s Oscars expert Clayton Davis previously reported, Cruise was the big hit of the nominees Luncheon. Spielberg was hardly the only nominee who fawned over the “Maverick” star. Brendan Gleeson, Paul Mescal, Baz Luhrmann, Michelle Yeoh, Austin Butler and more all made sure to approach Cruise during the event and take photos.
“Top: Gun Maverick” is nominated for six Oscars, while “The Fabelmans” is up for seven. The Oscars air March 12 on ABC.