For the film industry, one of the most exciting and speculative times of the year is the start of summer movie season. Although Hollywood’s widely successful efforts to schedule more tentpole releases throughout the calendar year has resulted in massive grosses being tallied outside the marquee period, the first weekend of May is still generally considered the official kickoff to the biggest (and, at four months long, the longest) movie slate.
That’s undoubtedly one reason why Marvel films have staked something of a monopoly on May’s first weekend for the past decade. In fact, this year will mark the eleventh consecutive year that a Marvel superhero film has opened on the first Friday of May. Of the previous ten, only three (2007’s Spider-Man 3, 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2) were outsiders to the official Marvel Cinematic Universe, and only three (Wolverine, 2011’s Thor, and TASM2) opened below the $100 million mark.
More fun facts: the collective average of May’s opening act superheroes since 2007 stands north of $137 million entering this year. The average climbs to an even more impressive $169 million over the last five years alone, dating back to The Avengers‘ then-record $207.4 million launch over the May 4-6, 2012 weekend.
Now, 2017’s addition to this unprecedented run arrives in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
For those not already up to speed: the original 2014 film broke away from convention as it simultaneously set a new box office benchmark for August blockbusters while also proving that casual audiences are willing to embrace the “weirder” side of the Marvel universe with what were, at the time, largely unknown characters. Stellar marketing and word of mouth resulted in an incredible $333 million domestic run that changed the status quo and immediately elevated the Guardians into “top tier” status among comic book adaptations.
Fast forward almost three years later, and the sequel has picked up where the first film left off. Fans are eagerly awaiting the next adventure with Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, and Drax — five names that were barely recognizable outside the circle of die-hard comic fans just a few years ago.
How will all of this translate for the sequel at the box office? Our analysis and final forecast below:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Disney / Marvel
- As already outlined, there’s an immense level of goodwill coming into this sequel after the original proved to be one of the more widely beloved comic book adaptations in recent years. The combination of adventure, comedy, and drama to the tune of an all-new “awesome mix” playlist should be irresistible to most fans.
- Industry tracking has remained largely in favor of a debut north of $140 million (the studio’s official projection entering this weekend) as the film’s interest and intent-to-see levels have performed at or above the marks seen by recent genre blockbusters like Deadpool, Suicide Squad, and Rogue One. If it can top The Dark Knight Rises‘ $160,887,295 opening, it would join the top ten list of highest all-time opening weekends. (Besting Spider-Man 3‘s $151,116,516 would place it among the five best May openers of all-time.)
- MovieTickets.com reports that advance sales are 3.5 times greater than the first film at the same point before release, while also 25 percent ahead of Deadpool (which did not have the advantaged of 3D prices to inflate eventual grosses).
- Following Jurassic World‘s (then) record-breaking opening in June 2015, plus his increasingly popular social media presence with fans all over the world, Chris Pratt’s star power has only continued to rise since his breakout year in 2014.
- Critical reviews are generally very positive with an 86 percent score across 135 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing. The Flixster audience’s 99 percent “want to see” score is equally as encouraging.
- Social media buzz has been strong since the first trailers debuted, notably resulting in higher sentiment scores on Twitter than even Civil War and Doctor Strange conjured last year.
- The addition of Kurt Russell should be appealing to older fans, while several newcomer characters promise to open up the expanding universe even more.
- The studio and James Gunn’s recent announcement that the latter will return to write and direct Vol. 3 is a pretty reliable indicator of their confidence in this first sequel.
- Beyond outlying examples, there’s not much going against this one other than the argument that, eventually, audiences may reach superhero burnout. That clearly hasn’t happened yet, though. If anything, there is merely the cautionary tale that sometimes tracking just flat out gets it wrong. Never say never, but it would be very surprising if that happens here. Marvel and Disney are a powerhouse combo that no one bets against right now — period.
Check out our weekend forecast in the table below.
|Title||Distributor||Weekend||Domestic Total through Sunday, May 7||% Change|
|Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2||Disney||$160,000,000||$160,000,000||NEW|
|The Fate of the Furious||Universal||$7,400,000||$206,070,000||-63.00%|
|How to be a Latin Lover||Pantelion||$6,860,000||$22,530,000||-44.00%|
|Beauty and the Beast (2017)||Disney||$5,800,000||$488,270,000||-15.00%|
|The Boss Baby||Fox||$4,400,000||$154,870,000||-53.00%|
|The Circle (2017)||STX Entertainment||$3,700,000||$15,220,000||-59.00%|
|Baahubali 2: The Conclusion||Great India Films||$3,600,000||$16,330,000||-65.00%|
|Going in Style (2017)||Warner Bros. (New Line)||$2,530,000||$41,080,000||-30.00%|
|Smurfs: The Lost Village||Sony / Columbia||$2,100,000||$40,810,000||-41.00%|
|Unforgettable (2017)||Warner Bros.||$1,210,000||$11,060,000||-50.00%|
Shawn Robbins and Alex Edghill contributed to this report.