2022 was the year of Top Gun: Maverick, raking in $1.493 billion against a $170 million budget. Tom Cruise himself earned $100 million from the film. However, it turns out Cruise could have pocketed even more if only Paramount had brokered a better deal for the film’s cable and streaming rights.
The film was undoubtedly the golden goose of the year, a sizzling hot property for any streaming or cable platform. Paramount seized the opportunity but then fumbled the ball when it came to its own streaming service, Paramount+. The stumbling block? Epix, a TV channel once owned by Paramount but taken over by MGM in 2017. Due to a pre-existing contract, which was extended to 2023, Epix had rights to run films from Paramount’s vault.
Now, this contract hadn’t really been an issue for Paramount as they hadn’t released any blockbuster movies in recent years. Enter Top Gun: Maverick. With this blockbuster hit, stakeholders started to get nervous. The contract with Epix meant that Paramount would not get the full profit potential from its streaming and cable rights. This, in turn, hit Tom Cruise’s earnings.
While Cruise’s legal team hasn’t filed a lawsuit against Paramount, there seems to be ongoing negotiations around the different copyright issues tied to Top Gun: Maverick.
According to reports, the discussions are in the works to ensure that future earnings are maximized. For Cruise, it’s not just about what he has already made; it’s about what could have been made. And that number might be significantly larger if not for the Epix-Paramount deal that cut into his profits.
The original “Top Gun” film, released in 1986, was a big hit at the box office. Directed by Tony Scott and starring Tom Cruise, the movie earned $356 million worldwide on a $15 million budget.