Weekend Box Office Forecast (Updated): GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 Aims for Softer Decline than Recent MCU Titles; BOOK CLUB 2 Debuts for Mother’s Day w/ $500K Previews

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"); Focus Features ("Book Club 2 - The Next Chapter")

Friday Update: Focus Features’ Book Club: The Next Chapter earned a reported $550K (previously reported as $500K) from domestic previews, which includes shows beginning at 5pm Thursday as well as 1pm early access screenings last Sunday.

That figure is on par with expectations entering the weekend as the sequel looks to play throughout the weekend thanks to Mother’s Day on Sunday. Similar films include 80 for Brady ($1.27 million from all previews, $750K from Thursday only), Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. ($600K), and Ticket to Paradise ($1.1 million, including early access).

Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 stood at $145.54 million after six days of domestic play through Wednesday. It has an increasingly strong chance to top $50 million in its sophomore frame, as mentioned below, and may even come in above final ranges.

Prior forecasts and full analysis are below.

Wednesday Forecast: With major studios avoiding the second frame of the latest Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will easily repeat atop the box office.

Despite opening toward the low end of expected ranges last week, Vol. 3 has shown early signs that word of mouth could help avoid the type of sharp drop-offs that have plagued recent MCU sequels with more mixed reception. The film’s 95 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is among the strongest of the sprawling franchise in recent years.

Last weekend specifically saw Guardians ease just 19 percent on Sunday, besting the first Saturday-to-Sunday decline of 23.7 percent by its predecessor, Vol. 2, with the exact same release date and calendar alignment in 2017.

Recent MCU second frame declines have hovered between 62 and 70 percent. The latter was posted by February’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as mixed reception combined with an inflated holiday opening. Last year’s summer opener, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, slid 67 percent, while July’s Thor: Love and Thunder dropped 68 percent.

It’s possible Guardians Vol. 3 could buck that trend and perhaps best Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s 63 percent drop, which came off a Veterans Day Friday opening last November.

The last MCU film to drop less than 60 percent in its second weekend was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. All the more impressive about its hold at the time was that it slid 54 percent from a Labor Day-inflated first weekend.

Six years ago, Vol. 2 dropped a similar 55.5 percent. A sharper drop is probably likely since Thursday previews have grown more popular and accounted for a bigger share of opening weekend demand since then, but a sub-60 percent decline for Vol. 3 certainly looks possible as casual fans tune in based on the very positive buzz surrounding the film.

Globally, the film stood at $344 million through Tuesday, including $138.4 million from North America and $205.6 million internationally.

On the opening front, Focus Features’ Book Club: The Next Chapter is the headliner of the weekend as it hopes to capitalize on Mother’s Day this Sunday. The original film opened to $13.6 million in May 2018 before legging out to $68.6 million domestically and over $104 million globally.

That first film was distributed under Paramount at the time, so the shift to a specialty distributor (albeit, a very successful one under the Universal banner) has translated into more muted marketing reach. Pre-release models are similar to conservative performers like the recent Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Historically, these types of sequels see diminished returns anyway. Look to last May’s Downton Abbey: A New Era for a relevant comparison point there. That sequel slipped 48 percent from the original’s $31 million debut to $16 million.

That said, with a primarily adult female audience, there is some allowance in more bullish tracking for a possible performance closer to 80 for Brady ($12.7 million earlier this year).

Meanwhile, Sony will open Knights of the Zodiac at an estimated 750 locations (per an estimate from the studio last week). Other specialty studio releases this weekend include Ketchup Entertainment’s Hypnotic, Roadside Attractions’ Fool’s Paradise, and Viva Pictures’ Rally Road Racers. These are currently excluded from forecasts below due to low expectations and limited tracking data.

Weekend Ranges

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Second Weekend Range: $45 – 53 million

Book Club 2 – The Next Chapter
Opening Weekend Range: $6 – 10 million (range and pinpoint revised on Thursday)

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for a 42 to 49 percent decline from last weekend’s $156 million top ten aggregate.

Film Studio 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, May 14 Fri Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Disney / Marvel Studios $50,500,000 $198,600,000 ~4,450 -57%
The Super Mario Bros. Movie Universal Pictures $15,000,000 $538,000,000 ~3,750 -19%
Book Club: The Next Chapter Focus Features $8,300,000 $8,300,000 ~3,000 NEW
Evil Dead Rise Warner Bros. Pictures $3,700,000 $60,200,000 ~2,800 -37%
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Lionsgate $3,300,000 $17,300,000 ~2,500 2%
John Wick: Chapter 4 Lionsgate $1,600,000 $182,600,000 ~1,500 -32%
Love Again Sony / Screen Gems $1,500,000 $4,900,000 ~2,703 -37%
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Paramount Pictures $1,000,000 $92,500,000 ~1,100 -31%

All forecasts are subject to revision/finalization before the first confirmation of opening previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are either studio estimates OR unofficial projections if preceded by “~”.

The above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Disney & Marvel Studios ("Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"); Focus Features ("Book Club 2 - The Next Chapter")

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