What’s happening: At the 2023 Oscar nominees luncheon, Steven Spielberg was spotted praising Tom Cruise and Top Gun: Maverick. After 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, the 2022 sequel to Top Gun became the second film to reach the $1 billion milestone at the box office since the start of the pandemic. It grossed a total of $1.488 billion, ultimately becoming the 12th highest-grossing film of all time worldwide.
Why it matters: Recently, Hollywood has increasingly released movies with divisive themes and messaging. Top Gun: Maverick proved to be a welcome change to this trend with its emphasis on bravery and brotherhood in the face of danger. Meanwhile, the weak box office returns of woke 2022 films like Disney’s Lightyear and Strange World seem to suggest that moviegoers are not interested in films that attempt to address LGBTQ relationships and other progressive subjects.
Go woke, go broke: Lightyear contained a same-sex kiss between two women, leading to backlash that included bans in 14 countries. It’s considered a failure despite being a part of an established franchise. Strange World similarly included a plotline with a male LGBT character and his love interest. It struggled to find an audience and lost the studio an estimated $147 million.