You can’t beat all expectations when everyone expects you to deliver a fantastic end to a trilogy with beloved misfits, or at least something close to it as possible. That said, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 emphasizes the MCU at a turning point: what once was considered a specialty every few months has now become an exercise in testing fanbase expectations. Granted, many of us are suckers for the next significant chapter amongst a heavily layered and (mostly) enjoyable universe of thirty-plus features. The practicality still stems from Disney’s corrupt obsessions as of late: hammering down on the best tools in their arsenal until an indication of lethargy forces them to try kickstarting another brand. Marvel Studios (and superheroes) were once the pinnacle of box office hits (for the entire decade between 2009-2019), and now, they’re hoping the popular sub-genres and their sequels will overdeliver. That’s not the case anymore (Spider-Man: No Way Home was the only exception, with some credit to Black Panther 2, which exceeded $400 million domestically).
Vol. 3 turned up with $114 million, the second biggest opening of the year behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie, thus far. However, that’s 24% lower than Vol. 2‘s $146 million debut six years ago. Credit to the positive word-of-mouth and A from CinemaScore for keeping things strong. If it legs like an average MCU summer striker, it’ll probably reach $275 million. Legs like its predecessor would push it closer to $300 million. God forbid it collapses in its second or third weekend and ends closer to $240-250 million. Even at this pace, and measuring the $168 million it earned overseas in its debut, it’ll still be the lowest-earning Guardians film of the trilogy (much like Quantumania back in February). If being involved in the MCU is no longer a large enough hook, then the rebooted X-Men, Blade, and Fantastic Four must be budgeted more correspondingly. Best of luck to The Marvels, Captain America: New World Order, and Deadpool 3 (along with Thunderbolts) for bringing us toward Avengers 5 & 6. And if those don’t succeed, it’ll be an atrocious future nightmare for the zebras.
In other news non-Marvel related, The Super Mario Bros. Movie dipped 54% in its fifth weekend with $18.6 million and a combined domestic total of $518.1 million. With over $641 million overseas, it is now at $1.16 billion worldwide. Mario has passed Toy Story 4 and Minions to become the fifth-highest-earning animated film ever. It should still have plenty of juice to surpass Incredibles 2‘s $1.242 billion, but it’ll need more than next weekend to surpass that benchmark. Much like with Guardians 3, this is a family pleaser.
Evil Dead Rise took bronze this weekend with $5.73 million, solidifying that it surpassed the 2013 Evil Dead with $114.8 million worldwide. Horror remains a contender to not overlook in times of explosive blockbusters/IPs. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret took $3.38 million in its second weekend. And newcomer Love Again took in $2.425 million from 2,703 theaters.
Meanwhile, Ben Affleck’s Air will open on Amazon Prime Video this Friday to get an extra boost to mitigate its losses in theatrical revenue, and Ant-Man 3 added 145 theaters to gain $808k (thanks to its MCU sibling’s release).
Next week sees the release of Book Club: The Next Chapter, Fool’s Paradise, Hypnotic, Crater, and The Mother.