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The Summer Blockbuster Confidence Scale

Forbes’ Scott Mendelson joins Matt to run through each of the most highly anticipated blockbusters of the summer

Singapore Premiere Of Top Gun: Maverick Multi-Media Showcase Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto via Getty Images


It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means it is officially summer blockbuster season. Matt is joined by Forbes’ Scott Mendelson to run through each of the most highly anticipated blockbusters of the summer and assign their confidence in the movie exceeding expectations at the box office.


In the following excerpt, Belloni and Mendelson handicap Top Gun: Maverick’s chances of dominating the summer box office.

Matthew Belloni: We’re going to go by the calendar here. We’re going to go movies, and you and I are going to talk about how confident we are that these are going to exceed or not exceed the expectations for them.

So, got to start this weekend with Top Gun: Maverick. The expectation is that it’ll open about $100 million domestic, maybe double that worldwide. I mean, at this point it’s got to exceed, right?

Scott Mendelson: Ideally, my only caveat is, and I could be wrong on this, is that I don’t know if kids give a shit. My kids certainly don’t. And we don’t know yet for sure whether online anticipation, and obsession, and fandom is going to translate to real-world interest, because it’s a huge difference between a bunch of film critics and pundits about my age, about your age, that grew up with Tom Cruise’s ’80s and ’90s pictures going, “Oh wow. Top Gun 2. That’s so exciting,” versus regular audiences that aren’t movie nerds and maybe don’t care as much.

Now the reviews are good, better than I would’ve expected, and frankly, better than I think they would’ve been if the movie had opened in 2020 just as a normal summer movie, because people are starved. Critics especially are starved for this kind of spectacle.

So yeah, I do think it’s going to do about [$80 million to $110 million] over four days, depending on the curve. If it does [$180 million to $200 million] worldwide, that’s terrific. Memorial Day weekend releases tend to be comparatively front-loaded. And by that, I mean it could do anywhere from 2 to 2.5 the four-day total, which would still be fantastic for a non–Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise picture.

Belloni: It’ll definitely be his biggest. I also think that this movie, because it has the dad energy attached to it—older people tend to come late to movies—it’ll probably play throughout the summer.

Mendelson: Most Tom Cruise movies are very leggy.

Belloni: Yeah. And they don’t have any competition for the first week in June. I mean, that’s the big thing this summer ...

Mendelson: Yeah. That’s nuts.

Belloni: ... that there are just fewer movies. There’s about a third fewer wide studio releases than a normal summer thanks to COVID. So, while we may have a situation where these movies are battling COVID hesitance still, they’re also not battling a huge blockbuster movie every weekend.

Mendelson: Yes. And I’m sure Paramount wants to be in a position where, kind of almost by default, Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t just become another big summer blockbuster, but the definitive event movie for grown-ups for the entire summer. And if that’s the case then it plays forever and ever.

And I don’t know the details, you might know more than I do, but is it really getting a 120-day window at this point?

Belloni: It is.

Mendelson: Well, then there you go. I mean ...

Belloni: That is the Tom Cruise window for the foreseeable future.

This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity.

Host: Matt Belloni
Guest: Scott Mendelson
Producer: Craig Horlbeck
Theme Song: Devon Renaldo

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