It looks like Marvel Studios is facing a rather curious development with the latest installment of its Marvel Cinematic Universe. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to end the weekend with around $114M domestically, which is slightly higher than the predictions going into the weekend and lands it a bit below the hoped-for $120M by Disney. Though that should not be a mark of end times, as its biggest challenge lies ahead with the second weekend.
Still, as pointed out by movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research David A. Gross “for superheroes, average is in the stratosphere” with Marvel Studios opening above $100M even with some believing a tepid response after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The film did open below Vol. 2’s powerful $146M but ahead of the first’s overall box office. There’s also a chance that the waiting period for this loosely tied Marvel film ending a trilogy after six years just lost a bit of its momentum alongside an overall tepid year besides the surprise Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Speaking of, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 did manage to dethrone the plumber from his throne to a still impressive second spot with $18.6M. Sony’s romantic comedy Love Again, however, didn’t bring in enough momentum with a B CinemaScore, 13% on RottenTomatoes at a rather tiny $2.4M opening weekend. The film only costs $9M but it still would require some momentum to recuperate its costs. Evil Dead Rise has been pulling quite some numbers as well, as it already stands at $110M globally which is quite bloody great for a $15M budgeted film. Horror still remains the low-budget, high-earners they’ve always been.
It should be noted that while the domestic box office is a bit behind, globally the Guardians 3 film is doing some impressive numbers. It opened to $168M in 52 markets and now stands at $282M. China has generally been quite behind with any Hollywood production (which means comparisons to previous box office records also need to be kept in mind) but had an actually strong $28M start and very strong word-of-mouth.
That’s kind of what Marvel Studios’ biggest hope should be. A soft opening is one thing but given Ant-Man 3 didn’t manage to pass $500M. Still, pulling in $465M is something many others still dream of as other big releases like Shazam: Fury of the Gods, and sadly Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves barely made their production budget back. Maybe it’s time to talk less about superhero fatigue and rather about blockbuster fatigue.
Overall, Marvel’s latest still beat its global expectations with the uncertainty in the Asian market since last year, as China and Korea have kind of backed off especially as Marvel embraced science-fiction with its latest projects; something not too keen in those markets. The film is 70% ahead of the first and pretty much on par with Vol. 2. If you take out China it’s even ahead by 13%, which highlights the difficulties of post-COVID box office discussions.
It’s crazy to think that a “tepid” box office opening for a Guardians of the Galaxy film is still the 50th highest opening globally of all time. Hell, it’s also the 18th title to do so in May. This does mark the lowest summer opening in some time but Deadline points out that this is actually a more realistic showcase of Guardians‘ box office prowess and Vol. 2 simply had a bit more momentum going into it with appearances in other Marvel movies. Perhaps the lesson is to once again tease future releases rather than an unknown future on the horizon for Marvel.
Ant-Man was also quite inflated with the arrival of Kang the Conqueror which also gave it a much bigger opening than it probably would’ve had outside of the last two releasing post-Avengers films carrying over that momentum. Guardians didn’t introduce anything new and as a trilogy “ender” it’s also going to speak to its core audience more than newcomers. Overall though, the summer is looking at a $100M average opening so this might not just be Marvel but rather a showcase of so many films releasing after a long time, people might be more selective. All Guardians 3 needs now are strong legs and to beat what has happened to the franchise post Avengers: Endgame to make its $250M budget profitable.