Top Gun: Maverick Has Won The First A+ CinemaScore Of 2022

"Top Gun: Maverick" has become the first film of 2022 to receive an A+ CinemaScore rating in exit polls from audiences on opening night. Since earlier this month, the Tom Cruise-led sequel has maintained a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes as well. It currently has a Tomatometer rating of 97% and an audience score of 99%.

CinemaScore itself posted the news that "Top Gun: Maverick" had received an A+ on Twitter, as you can see below.

Director Martin Scorsese once likened CinemaScore to a racetrack or Consumer Reports rating, but it gauges the reactions of moviegoers who are among the first crowds to see films upon their wide release in select cities across North America. This means it's somewhat skewed toward Americans and Canadians who are already interested or excited about a given movie.

Looking back at other films that have received an A+ CinemaScore in the 21st century (via The Wrap), you'll see a predictable run of crowd-pleasing superhero films and family-oriented Disney and Pixar films. However, there are also some movies that might be considered more niche, such as the faith-based films "Courageous," "Miracles from Heaven," "I Can Only Imagine," and "Overcomer."

The A+ CinemaScore of certain movies has been at odds with the critical consensus, as in the case of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Tyler Perry's "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Why Did I Get Married?" We see the reverse effect coming out of film festivals sometimes, where a movie garners a lot of buzz and earns rapturous reviews, only to have that tempered by slightly less favorable word-of-mouth once it expands beyond the bubble (or outright echo chamber) of the critical community.

With "Top Gun: Maverick," however, the overall audience reaction seems to be in line with that of critics.

Pro-military with a dash of sports

The last movie to receive an A+ CinemaScore was the football film "American Underdog," starring Zachary Levi, which opened last year on Christmas Day. Sports movies tend to fare well with CinemaScore audiences, as evidenced by the A+ for movies like "Remember the Titans," "Cinderella Man," "42," "Woodlawn," and "Ford vs. Ferrari."

"Top Gun: Maverick" does feature a beach football scene in place of the infamous volleyball game from the original 1986 film, and it's also a film with a distinct military bent. A number of those, such as "Antwone Fisher," "Lone Survivor," and "American Sniper" have also earned an A+ with CinemaScore audiences. The cynical view would be to say that these movies appeal to the lowest common denominator; a more charitable view might be to say that they are just movies with broad appeal, or ones that left theater patrons feeling like satisfied customers.

Personally, I was rather ambivalent about "Top Gun: Maverick." I saw it on opening day, and having just rewatched the original "Top Gun" a day or two beforehand, this new one struck me as a well-polished example of what this year's "Scream" called a "requel" or "legasequel." 

What was most surprising to me was how "Top Gun: Maverick" folded in familiar plot elements from outside franchises — specifically, the "Star Wars" franchise. The first "Star Wars" movie opened on Memorial Day weekend 45 years ago, and without giving too much away, it's enough to say that the ending of "Top Gun: Maverick" hews closely at times to producer Jerry Bruckheimer's idea of "Star Wars on Earth."

"Top Gun: Maverick" is in theaters now.