Did Top Gun: Maverick Boost Movie Theater Foot Traffic?

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Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 blockbuster about Navy fighter pilots, was released on May 27 to an overwhelmingly positive response, and quickly became North America’s highest-grossing film of 2022. During its 4-day opening weekend, the sequel, which stars Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, made an estimated $156 million domestically, breaking the record for the biggest opening over Memorial Day weekend, long held by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which brought in $153 million over the same weekend in 2007.

The Top Gun sequel crossed the $1 billion mark in box office revenues worldwide about a month after its release and shows no signs of slowing down. With nearly triple the sales of the 1986 original film, Top Gun: Maverick is Paramount Pictures’ second highest-grossing film to date, behind 1997’s Titanic.  With the movie’s immense popularity, we wondered how its release affected moviegoer attendance in the United States. To find out, we analyzed foot traffic to movie theaters nationwide between May 21 and June 18, 2022.

Moviegoers Flocked to Theaters for Top Gun: Maverick

As moviegoers headed to nearby theaters to experience the long-awaited Top Gun sequel, foot traffic to movie theaters peaked on Saturday, May 28, 2022, with a 27% increase over the previous Saturday. Movie theater foot traffic has steadily increased with each passing week, which suggests that Top Gun:Maverick still has the potential to draw crowds, underscoring the film’s longevity in theaters nationwide.

What is the Best Day to Go to the Movies?

It’s no surprise that weekends are the most popular days to see a movie, with our data capturing an average of 53K visitors on Saturdays. If you want to avoid the crowds and attend a more private screening, consider seeing Top Gun: Maverick on a Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Our data shows that these are the slowest days of the week at theaters, and perhaps the best days to grab a good seat for a blockbuster movie.  

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Which States Have the Biggest Top Gun Fans?

Top Gun: Maverick has taken American box offices by storm, but one state’s movie theater attendance triumphs over the rest. Rhode Island saw a 120% jump in daily visitors between May 21 and May 28, 2022. Connecticut (+86%), Maine (+81%), Colorado (+69%), and Nebraska(+62) also saw a significant amount of moviegoers during that same time period. Could it be that the biggest Top Gun fans live in the Northeast? Maybe. Some states at the top of our list, like Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine, are all home to naval bases, which could explain why moviegoers in those areas were interested in a story that centers on officers in the Navy. The states with the least amount of Top Gun fans were Vermont (-47%), Hawaii (-20%), Wisconsin (-7%), and Wyoming (-3%), which all saw declines in movie theater foot traffic during the Top Gun sequel’s opening weekend.

Will Blockbusters Help Movie Theaters Recover Foot Traffic?

Given Top Gun: Maverick’s record-setting box office stats, it’s clear that U.S. consumers are ready to get back into theaters this summer. We predict that summer blockbusters will drive foot traffic back to movie theaters. Additionally, we have found that the movie theater industry has been showing signs of resilience before the arrival of spring and summer blockbusters. In Q1 2022, visits to movie theaters were up across major chains, compared to the first quarter of 2021.


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