Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in 'Top Gun: Maverick' from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

Tom Cruise proved himself as big a box office draw as any comic book creation on the weekend, with Top Gun: Maverick starting its engine to the tune of $13.8 million.

More than two years after its original planned release date, Paramount’s aviator adventure was firing on all cylinders, opening on 905 screens at an average of $15,236 per session.

Worldwide, the film has grossed more than US$248 million since making its debut last week, including a weekend domestic total of US$134 million, a new milestone for Cruise.

In the absence of a Chinese or Russian release, the Top Gun sequel was flying high in the UK, drawing US$19.4 million from 735 locations, as well as in France, where it landed to US$11.7million at 790 locations.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick picks up more than three decades after the original, with Cruise reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a Navy aviator that continues to push the envelope as a courageous test pilot while dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialised mission, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend, Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.”

Hayden Orpheum CEO Alex Temesvari said the big-budget follow-up was a “genuine crowd-pleaser” that “absolutely delivered” with the independent cinema’s audience.

“I believe we ranked as the best indie location in NSW with the film, giving us our second-best COVID era launch after No Time To Die,” he said.

“We’re expecting a massive hold for the second weekend as the glowing word of mouth kicks in.

“Hats off to Paramount and Tom Cruise for knowing what they had, waiting for the right time to release, and resisting the urge to do a hybrid release for a film that clearly deserves the big screen experience and is deservedly getting one of the best receptions of any Hollywood blockbuster in years.”

The film made up more than two-thirds of the top 20 box office total, which reached $18.2 million, an increase of 109 per cent from the preceding reporting frame.

Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson said the chain had enjoyed a “sky high” weekend thanks to Cruise and co.

“We saw an increasing number of people who hadn’t been to the cinema in a long time return for this one,” he said.

The soaring debut meant that Disney’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness was knocked off its perch for the first time since its release, with the Marvel title managing $1.7 million from its fourth frame to push past $35 million overall and rank second on the list.

Sizzling into number three was Disney stablemate The Bob’s Burger Movie, which bowed to $332,536 for an average of $1,330 per session. The spin-off feature of the long-running animated television also made a respectable US$12.6 million in the US from its opening weekend.

Universal’s Downton Abbey: A New Era just managed to hold on to fourth position in its fifth outing, garnering $276,628 to track at $7.1 million.

After dropping to eighth in the previous reporting period, Roadshow’s Everything Everywhere All at Once again showcased its staying power to return to the top five with $273,093 from its seventh weekend and reach $4.7 million overall.

Madman’s local hope How To Please a Woman was next with $261,744 from its second outing, a 48 per cent from its opening weekend. Renee Webster’s feature directorial debut has so far clocked $1.4 million, including $1 million from its first week.

Universal’s The Bad Guys was the only top ten film to retain its place from last weekend, drawing $253,312 from its ninth frame to reach $15.2 million overall.

Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also moved past its ninth weekend of release, with its total of $233,024 enough to move past $22 million.

Rom-com The Lost City, also from Paramount, experienced the biggest drop within the top ten, going from fourth to ninth with $199,334.

Southern Star’s new Indian Telugu-language comedy film F3: Fun and Frustration bowed to $196,173 from 151 locations for an average of $3,847 per session and a tenth place ranking.

The box office may be set for a further shake-up in the coming weeks as Universal unleashes Jurassic World: Dominion on June 9.

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