Ron Howard Poses Key Question About ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ After Film’s Record-Breaking Success

by Leanne Stahulak

Ron Howard hopped on the bandwagon to discuss the biggest film of the summer so far, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which has broken tons of records in under two weeks.

“Top Gun: Maverick” now boasts the highest Memorial Weekend debut to date. It’s also Tom Cruise’s highest-grossing film, domestically, surpassing “War of the Worlds” in 2005. And ticket sales for the film dropped the lowest amount (29%) between its first and second weekend in theaters, for a film that earned over 100 million.

As of Wednesday, June 8, the film had earned $322 million domestically and more than $600 million globally, per Forbes. That’s an incredible amount for being in theaters for less than two weeks.

But now, classic TV star and director Ron Howard wants to know about another potential record that “Top Gun: Maverick” might break: Viewership minutes.

This metric is how streaming services like Netflix measure the success of one of their original shows or films. Before streamers, box office sales and Nielsen ratings for cable TV shows were the only measurable metrics. But now, streamers calculate how many minutes viewers spend watching their hit series to estimate success and profit.

So, Ron Howard wonders how the box office success of “Top Gun: Maverick” translates into viewer minutes for a streamer like Netflix or HBO. He wrote on Twitter earlier, “Anyone out there want to estimate how many ‘viewer minutes’ #MaverickTopGun generated in movie theaters around the world over the memorial day weekend? Be interesting to comp that with streamer numbers over the same period for hit shows.”

Ron Howard Wonders How ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Compares to Major Streaming Titles

Tom Cruise has made it abundantly clear that he never wanted “Top Gun: Maverick” to stream instead of debuting in theaters. But if the pandemic still raged as badly today as it did in 2020, then would Cruise have had any choice?

That’s what’s interesting about Ron Howard’s question. He wants to know how many people would have watched “Top Gun: Maverick” from the comfort of their couch and living room-sized TV vs. in theaters.

Some fans took to the comments of Howard’s post with quick calculations. They tried to divide the total box office sales by average movie ticket prices. And then, they tried to somehow connect those values to the number of showings and the average runtime of the film.

But ultimately, Ron Howard’s question is almost impossible to answer because of the factor of the movie theater itself. Sure, several Tom Cruise fans would’ve watched “Top Gun: Maverick” if it debuted on HBO. But word of mouth about the film and the anticipation of seeing it on the big screen has definitely factored into the record-breaking ticket sales.

The movie may be good on its own. But the added experience of seeing it in theaters is one that can’t easily be translated into viewership minutes for a streaming service.