It was supposed to be Tom Cruise vs. Gru at the July 4th boxoffice, but this mid-summer night’s dream evaporated.
When 2021 began, release schedules showed a powerhouse package on 7/2 — Paramount/Skydance’s TOP GUN: MAVERICK, starring Tom Cruise (pictured); & Universal/Illumination’s MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU.
Cruise picking up where he left off in 1986 as daredevil Navy pilot Maverick in TOP GUN was a natural magnet for moviegoers’ money. The original cost $15M and did a then phenomenal $357.3M worldwide.
The first MINIONS, a spinoff of the DESPICABLE ME series, cost $74M. It opened 7/10/15 to $115.7M and did $1.2B worldwide, the first non-Disney or Pixar animated film to crack $1B.
As the pandemic worsened, both tentpoles went into safer ground. TGM landed on 11/19/21, where Cruise was to have opened in Paramount’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 7. GRU was pushed back a year to 7/1/22.
Universal took over 7/2 for THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS & THE FOREVER PURGE and they’re both playing well enough with F9’s Weekend #2 to keep the summer recovery going. But had TGM & GRU stayed in place, exhibitors would really have seen some July 4th fireworks.