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Steven Spielberg was overheard giving a massive compliment to Tom Cruise at the 2023 Academy Luncheon on Monday.
The iconic filmmaker told Cruise in his ear in what was seemingly intended as a private exchange that last year’s blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick might have single-handedly saved theatrical moviegoing.
“You saved Hollywood’s ass, and you might have saved theatrical distribution,” Spielberg says in the video below. “Seriously, Maverick might have saved the entire theatrical industry.” Cruise, for his part, looks rather humbled by the compliment and shook his head.
During the pandemic, Cruise adamantly pushed for studio Paramount to hold Maverick for theatrical release and resist the temptation to release the film to a streaming service.
Spielberg and Cruise have a long relationship, which includes working together on 2002’s Minority Report and 2005’s War of the Worlds.
Maverick ended up with the highest-grossing domestic box office of 2022, bringing in $718 million. Combined with foreign receipts, the sequel totaled $1.5 billion.
The 2021 blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Home has also been widely credited with helping revive moviegoing post-pandemic. But Maverick was seen as busting through the usual superhero movie dominance, plus bringing older moviegoers back to the theaters.
Maverick has six Oscar nominations, including best picture. Spielberg’s acclaimed biographical drama The Fabelmans is up for seven Oscars, including best picture and best director.
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