Talk to me Goose! Is the box office rebounding with recent success?

The millions of moviegoers who flocked to theaters to see protagonist Maverick in an F-16 Tomcat and hear the iconic call signs of pilots and their wingmen this summer were not disappointed. 

Tom Cruise returned almost 30 years later to reprise the role of Maverick once again in the long-awaited sequel to 1986 film “Top Gun.” “Top Gun: Maverick” has now entered the top five atmosphere in highest grossing films of all time. Domestic box office numbers according to Variety currently show the film grossing over $700 million. Still, this same success and influx of revenue for the box office has not been seen elsewhere. 

Before the pandemic, many enjoyed snacking on a large buttery popcorn and theater box candy while sitting in a packed theater to enjoy a new release film on the big screen. Now, most theater owners are seeing less and less moviegoers packing the theater to catch the next big Hollywood blockbuster. 

Many who were first introduced to streaming services during the pandemic out of necessity are now having a tough time choosing to return to theaters. In this new era of streaming, moviegoers would much rather wait to see the film once it is added to their streaming platform before paying for a ticket. 

Jordan Stalker, an adjunct communications professor at DePaul, includes points in his lecture slides on how streaming platforms have changed the movie going experience.

“Since the admin of streaming, there has been a loss in the shared experience or shared culture,”

Stalker said. “There is something important that gets lost when we see the same movies on television and radio stations. It is that they can’t talk about the film or experience certain things like clapping at the end of the movie.”

He also said that a film like “Top Gun” was built to be a Hollywood blockbuster film.

“Seeing F-16 Tomcat’s … a great soundtrack… [this is what] movie spectacles are meant to be,” Stalker said. “To have “Maverick” as a way to return to that kind of experience is still possible.”

Reid Janson, a Senior in DePaul’s theater school believes the reason behind the success of “Top Gun: Maverick” is that many wanted to get out of the house and return to the theaters after the events of the pandemic.

“The biggest factor to its success I think is the resurgence of people coming back to theaters since the pandemic,” Janson said. “It seems the theater has seen a little more success this year with movies like ‘Minions: Rise of Gru’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’”

Kristine Graf, who first saw “Top Gun” when the film came out in 1986, was extremely excited to see the sequel. “Top Gun: Maverick” was able to keep the same feeling many fans like her first felt when they saw the original “Top Gun” and what initially led to the success of the first film at the box office she said.

“The director and film makers were able to maintain the original ‘feeling’ of “Top Gun” by putting you in the driver’s seat, keeping the same theme song, and having you ride down that airport strip again with Maverick on his motorcycle,”Graf said. “They also did a great job of reliving and going back to the original story.”

What they tied to the original story was connecting Maverick to his old wingman Goose who died in the original film. In the sequel, Maverick is tasked with training a new group of graduates, one of these graduates, Rooster, is the son of his former wingman Goose. Now he must face some of the ghosts from his past and lead this young new group through their training. Graf thought this small detail was a great tie back to the original film.

“They also did a great job of reliving and going back to the original story,” Graf said. “Styling Rooster’s character after Goose, playing the infamous Jerry Lee Lewis song at the piano and wrapping up the storyline with Ice Man’s death made me feel very nostalgic.”

The box office was able to rebound by marketing more kid friendly movies according to the Hollywood Reporter nine out of the top 10 films in the box office were kid friendly films. After a disastrous 2020 with many movie theaters closing due to public gathering restrictions brought on by the pandemic. The box office was able to rebound somewhat in 2021 when these restrictions were uplifted. The United States box office revenue topped out at approximately $4.5 billion. This was a massive 81% increase in total revenue from the year prior, but the total was down a whopping 50% from pre-Covid-19.

Spiderman helped build this massive increase in revenue with the release of its third filmThe movie grossed over $1.9 billion in the box office since the release. In the past few weeks, the studio decided to re-release the movie under the title “Spider-Man No Way Home: The More Fun Stuff Version.” This version of the film includes 11 minutes of bonus content to the original film.

This film brought together the first two takes on the roles of Spider-Man and brought back their iconic villains and the actors who played them in the different franchises.

Stalker believed the success of the film was based on it being like “Top Gun Maverick.” Using what the studio created with the multiverse, they were able to bring back different versions of Spider-Man and some of his iconic villains he faced in the comics.

“Similar to ‘Top Gun’, we know who they are, we know they are going to help drive sales,” Stalker said. “Fans know what the story will bring from the different comic book storylines or from past events in the same film franchise.”

Based on the stats and numbers of the box office, many believe that the movie industry is starting to climb back from the events of the past few years; however, Janson thinks that the industry will not be able to recover after many movie fans found it easier to just stream the movies from the comfort of their own homes.

“I personally think the movie theater experience is still somewhat doomed without a reimagine of the core experience,” Janson said. “As home television and audio technology advance, the

argument that certain movies have to be seen in theaters will diminish over time.”

Stalker might disagree with this comment. He believes that even while we move into an era where there are many different streaming services, they will always be films made to be seen in the movie theaters.

“I think we will always have blockbuster movies made for the theaters,” Stalker said. “The industry will figure out what to do.”