Tom Cruise is flying high at the top of the global box office thanks to Top Gun: Maverick. Which is why we think he should follow that “legasequel” with another follow-up to a hit film from his past – namely The Color of Money.
Fans have been longing for a sequel to Top Gun ever since the first film hit in 1986, and turned Tom Cruise into a global icon overnight.
It’s taken nearly 40 years for that continuation to happen, but according to both audiences and critics it was worth the wait, with Top Gun: Maverick already one of the most successful films of Tom Cruise’s career.
The movie has grossed more than $200 million worldwide in a week, and shows little sign of dropping off this weekend. The reviews have also been almost universally positive, with the film currently sitting at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. So could the time be right to belatedly revisit another Tom Cruise classic?
The Color of Money was already a “legasequel”
It’s risky making a sequel to a movie decades later, which is why that process seldom happens in Hollywood. But The Color of Money hit screens 25 years after its predecessor The Hustler, and managed to make that gamble work.
Based on a Walter Tevis novel of the same name – and released in 1959 – The Hustler stars Paul Newman as Eddie Felson, a pool hall con-man trying to make it to the big leagues.
The story finds “Fast Eddie” falling for a girl called Sarah (Piper Laurie) and going up against pool legend Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason).
The movie was a huge hit, and received nine Academy Award nominations, winning two. In 1997, The Hustler was also selected by the Library of Congress to be preserved in America’s National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
What happens in The Color of Money?
Tom Cruise was therefore taking a massive chance when he accepted a role in the sequel. But with Martin Scorsese directing from a screenplay by Richard Price – based on another Walter Tevis novel – the team behind him was strong. Plus Paul Newman returned as Eddie Felson.
Fast Eddie is retired from the pool game at the start of the film and now works as a drink salesman. But he sees hustling potential in arrogant upstart Vincent Lauria, played by Cruise.
Agreeing to help guide Vincent, the pair team-up and head out on the road, the film ending at a tournament in Atlantic City that pits master against student.
The Color of Money was a sizeable hit, grossing $50 million from a $15 million budget. It also won Paul Newman his first acting Oscar after seven nominations.
What could happen in a sequel?
We’re nearly 40 years away from The Color of Money, but the ages match up, as Newman was 61 when he reprised the role of Eddie Felson, and Tom Cruise is now 59. Making him the perfect age to play mentor to some cocky mentee.
Unfortunately Walter Tevis didn’t write a third book about these characters, so the script would be starting from scratch.
But since the pool players have all been men in the franchise thus far, perhaps now is the time to throw a pool-playing woman into the mix. Someone who can play Vincent at his own game, and take him down a peg or two.
And pool is now a global game – with televised tournaments happening all over the world – so it might be fun to take the story out of America, and and have the characters embark on a European tour.
A sequel wouldn’t do Top Gun: Maverick numbers as these films are character studies rather than big-budget blockbusters. But it would be fun to see the star revisit Vincent Lauria after all these years. And who knows, like Newman before him, a sequel might just win Cruise the acting Oscar that has eluded him thus far.
Top Gun: Maverick is in cinemas now.