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The great visitor numbers for “Top Gun: Maverick” has theater owners flying at Mach 10. Sequel from 1986 “topgun,” The action picture scored the biggest opening ever for Memorial Day weekend. A now 59-year-old Tom Cruise is back as pilot ace, which could add to more good news for the industry. More than half of the box office was made up of people over 35, the very demographic that left theaters during the COVID-19 plague.

Are cinemas coming back from the dead, or was this an isolated case? I’d like to think the former because so much of our community culture has collapsed under the onslaught of tiny private screens.

Cinemas call the sociologists “Third Places” Hangouts that are away from home or work. Bookstores and coffee shops are examples of third places. Many bookstores are struggling to survive, and Starbucks can only do so much.

After not stepping into a movie theater for about two years, your author and a companion walked through those doors. During that absence, I had installed a larger TV at home and subscribed to a number of streaming channels.

And why have I left the comfort of my couch and curated snacks to pay for a seat that belongs to others and is with strangers all around me? Apart from all these vaccinations, why?

The answer is simple. I wanted out of the damn house.

It gave the added incentive of seeing something worthwhile that only ran in theaters and required a screen larger than even my new 57-inch Sony. “Top Gun: Maverick” needed a screen bigger than the side of my house.

The film served various audiences. It had the brain-splitting action scenes my companion craves – and, for me, characters with tormented relationships. Sure, I could imagine how they would all end, but at least you could watch the father-son, ex-lover, and other tensions ebb and flow.

Patriotism didn’t bother you. “Top Gun: Maverick” was like the original a hymn to the Navy. The frontrunners may be wrong in judgment, but they wanted to do the right thing and fix their mistakes.

The pilots were all smart and brave. And although the crews varied by race, ethnicity and gender, the filmmakers spared us such conflicts.

But let’s put in a good word for the portrayal of women. Actress Jennifer Connelly, Tom Cruise’s eternal love interest, is allowed to show a hint of crow’s feet around her eyes. (After all, it’s been 36 years since the original.) Both Connelly and Monica Barbaro, as the female pilot, are portrayed as serious women in apartments. No butt lift in sight.

Maverick could be counted on to break the rules, but his transgressions were never large enough to get him kicked out. And although the pilots partied at their bar while some grudges simmered in the background, no one was waving their fists, let alone knives or pistols. they sang “Big Fire Balls” around the piano.

The big existential question for cinema owners is whether they can win back their older audiences with other films. In hindsight of an answer, I asked my companion why he wanted to go out to see “Top Gun: Maverick.”

His answer – “because we couldn’t stream it” – wasn’t exactly encouraging. But he added: “It was kind of a night, too. Not a night, but an excursion.”

OK. We don’t really know if big films with a touch of IQ will attract the audiences that theaters need. Let’s just say the upcoming attractions did their part. “Jurassic World: Dominion” here we come.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at [email protected] To learn more about Froma Harrop and read contributions from other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at

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