Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3’ kicks off summer movie season with $114 million opening

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Still from Marvel Studio’s “Guardians of the Galaxy. Vol 3.”

Disney

James Gunn’s ragtag group of criminals-turned-heroes snared $114 million at the domestic box office during their third foray in cinemas.

Disney and Marvel Studio’s “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” tallied another $168.1 million from international markets over the weekend, bringing its total global haul to $282.1 million during its first three days in theaters.

“The long-standing tradition of a Marvel movie kicking off the summer movie season continues and with a $100 million plus debut,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

Marvel Cinematic Universe films now account for half of the dozen movies that have opened to more than $100 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada since the start of the Covid pandemic.

“Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” came in a little under expectations, which expected the film to snare between $120 million and $150 million during its opening frame. It also fell short of the $146.5 million “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2” collected in 2017.

“Expectations certainly began higher for ‘Vol. 3’s’ opening, but perhaps that was unfair for a trilogy-capper that was actually the sixth film to feature these characters in less than a decade,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “The broader collateral damage of mixed reception toward several post-‘Endgame’ films and streaming series is certainly worth considering, as well as the fact that ‘Vol. 3’ was sold as a self-contained film without the kind of hook that would imply big consequences for the broader MCU.”

Robbins said the film acts more as an epilogue for a number of popular Marvel characters and less of a table-setter for future stories within the Marvel universe. But, that doesn’t mean the film can’t continue to drive foot traffic to cinemas, he said.

“If early audience reactions are telling, this sequel’s box office legs could stretch out in the weeks ahead and bring back some of Marvel’s casual audience that has opted to wait for word of mouth rather than rush out on opening weekend,” Robbins said.

The film enticed around 8 million patrons to domestic theaters over the weekend, higher than the 7.2 million that came out for Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” in February. Some 28% of these moviegoers opted to see the film in a premium format, spending an average of $4.34 more per ticket, according to data from Entelligence.

“‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3’ marks the start of what promises to be one of the most important and blockbuster-filled May-through-Labor-Day periods in industry history,” Dergarabedian said, noting that ticket sales between May and September could top $4 billion, on par with pre-pandemic levels.

The release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is also the symbolic end of Gunn’s time with one comic book studio and the start of his reign at another.

The writer and director has been tapped to helm Warner Bros.’ DC Studios, alongside producer Peter Safran, to bring fresh takes on Superman, Batman and even Swamp Thing to the big screen. Gunn and Safran will also develop a number of television shows for the studio.

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