Top Gun: Maverick is expected to gross an estimated $151 million at the box office over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, which will make it the most successful opening weekend release of Tom Cruise’s storied career. The legendary actor has starred in numerous classic films including Risky BusinessJerry MaguireRain ManA Few Good MenMission: Impossible, and many more.

The original Top Gun was released back in 1986. Alongside Cruise, Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, and Tom Skerritt starred in the movie. Top Gun received mixed reviews from critics when it first hit theaters but gained steam as time went on, eventually earning a total of $356 million against a production budget of $15 million.

Top Gun, Tom Cruise
Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Despite the success, Cruise repeatedly said he wasn’t interested in continuing the franchise. In 1990, he described such a film as “irresponsible,” citing critics who considered the original movie to be an example of military propaganda in Hollywood during the Reagan administration. 

“I want kids to know that that’s not the way war is — that Top Gun was just an amusement park ride, a fun film with a PG-13 rating that was not supposed to be reality,” Cruise has said.

While Cruise was hesitant, Maverick director Joseph Kosinski was able to sell him on returning to the franchise with the plot of the new film.

“Well, I worked with Tom, and I knew to start with character and emotion,” Kosinski recently explained to Polygon. “I just pitched this idea of Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller) growing up to become a naval aviator, and him and Maverick having this fractured relationship that had never been repaired. With Maverick getting called back to train this group of students to go on a mission that he knows is very, very dangerous.”

He continued: “The conflict [is about] the difference between being an aviator who goes in and risks his own life, and someone who’s in a more senior position that has to send others in to risk their lives. I talked to some Navy admirals who talked about that difference. It’s a different sort of pressure, it’s almost harder to send others in rather than go yourself. And to me, it felt like that leveraged the emotion of the past film and those relationships that we all love, but took it in a new direction. So that’s where I started.”

Top Gun: Maverick is in theaters now. Check out a trailer for the film below.