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Tom Cruise, Hollywood’s Forever Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 fighter pilot saga, has taken in $1.49 billion at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film of the year—and of Cruise’s career.

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise

Photo illustration: 731; photo: The Chosun Ilbo Jns/Imazins/Getty Images

Maverick was in the works for some time. The original release date of summer 2019 was pushed back so the cast could work on the complex aerial scenes, then delayed again because of the pandemic. Several streaming companies tried to buy the rights to the film from Paramount Pictures Corp., but Tom Cruise insisted the movie be released only in theaters. “I make movies for the big screen,” he told an audience before Maverick ’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

It was the shot of jet fuel audiences wanted—and cinemas needed—after two years of movies premiering in homes, on small screens. In the film, Cruise reprises his role as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who returns to his former flight school to do one more mission and to reconcile with Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Goose, Maverick’s fallen best friend and wingman from the original. The sequel will be available for streaming beginning on Dec. 22, after spending months in theaters and pushing past 2018’s Black Panther to become the No. 5 movie of all time by US box-office revenue.