Sony Pictures bosses Sanford Panitch and Josh Greenstein believe their studio deserves some credit for the stratospheric success of Top Gun: Maverick.
On a recent interview (opens in new tab) with Vulture, the duo stated that Sony’s decision to release films like Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No Way Home exclusively in theaters during the pandemic paved the way for Top Gun: Maverick’s $1, 2 billion (and counting). ) at the global box office.
“There’s so much press about Top Gun right now,” said Panitch. “It’s like, ‘The movie business is back!’ In a weird way, I’d say Top Gun is benefiting from us taking our chance. Venom is the beginning of this story that allows Top Gun to do the kind of business he did. These things don’t happen overnight. It is a sowing.”
“When we started releasing movies last October, there were no other great movies,” Greenstein added. “Everyone had pushed their big movies to this year, to this summer. We took a big gamble on putting Venom in theaters. So we doubled up with Ghostbusters. So our biggest bet was when all the other tentpoles fled, we tripled with Spider-Man – our biggest and most important piece of intellectual property.”
Sony Pictures co-presidents are not wrong to use the success of their theatrical releases with pride. Venom: Let There Be Carnage grossed a worldwide total of $506 million upon its release in October of last year, before Ghostbusters: Afterlife grossed $204 million and Spider-Man: No Way Home hit a record $1. 9 billion (becoming the third-highest-grossing film of all time in the process).
However, trying to claim a share of Top Gun: Maverick’s stellar box office is a little too strong. Paramount’s tentpole was always destined for a big-screen release — it was delayed three times to avoid being doomed to streaming services — and its success has boiled down to a combination of overwhelming (and unexpectedly) positive critical reception, word-of-mouth popularity, and generational appeal as a legacy sequel.
Furthermore, Sony was far from the first studio to face a return to theaters. The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros.) and Last Night in Soho (Universal) were released in theaters in August and September respectively (i.e. before Venom: Let There Be Carnage), while release dates for other 2021 films such as No Time to Die (Universal) and Dune (Warner Bros.) were already set before any theatrical success Sony would enjoy.
Then there’s the small matter of Tenet (Warner Bros.), which had an exclusive theatrical release — worth $365 million — in September 2020 (we even ran an article at the time praising director Christopher Nolan’s efforts to lead a -needed box office recovery).
Respectfully, then, Venom: Let There Be Carnage had little bearing on the commercial performance of Top Gun: Maverick – at least in our opinion.
Or maybe yes. But that begs the question: why didn’t his recent Sony companions Morbius and Where the Crawdads Sing make the same symbiotic leap?