Great news, as Disney/Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 held it together on Saturday with an estimated $38.8M, just -20% off from its Friday+previews’ figure of $48.2M. This will get the James Gunn-directed MCU swan song to $114M, which is higher than the $110M we were spotting earlier in the week. Essentially and logically, that great heat out there for the film kicked in. Phew! Global is $282M, with $168M overseas, which ranks as the 50th-highest global debut ever for a movie. EntTelligence says that there were 8M admissions in US/Canada for GOTG3, versus the 7.2M which Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania clocked in its opening weekend.
While better than expected, some still have concern about superhero fatigue. Still, a $100M+ opening start to summer, while easing some motion picture industry fears, does put stress on the rest of the season’s calendar to deliver (read on).
GOTG3’s opening here in recent memory is one of the lower kick-off-summer openings, excluding the pandemic. It’s just north of 2002’s Spider-Man from Sony ($114.8M), that pic being the first movie ever to open north of $100M+ in a given weekend. Last year, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ opening ($187.4M) drove overall first weekend of May tickets sales to $222.3M, which resulted in a $3.44 billion summer, per Comscore, and at $156.7M this weekend, we’re off 30% from the same weekend in May a year ago, per ComScore. Doctor Strange 2 cleared $411.3M (repping 12% of last summer’s domestic figure), the second-highest grossing movie of summer after Top Gun: Maverick ($718.3M). No Guardians movie has ever cleared $400M stateside, GOTG doing $333.7M, and GOTG2 grossing $389.8M.
That said, why was the opening here for GOTG3 not as vibrant as GOTG2 ($146.5M)? Sources believe that part 2’s pinnacle was more of fluke in its overperformance, and that the gross here for GOTG3 is within the franchise’s and MCU deeper universe pic’s real mean, which we’ve been served plenty of, i.e. Deadpool 2 ($125.5M) in 2018, not to mention, we’ve seen the Guardians appear in a number of movies like Avengers and Thor. Another reason for GOTG2 popping in 2017 — there was a momentum leading into Avengers: Infinity War, which was teeing off the following summer of 2018. Still, many are telling me it’s not about the overexposure of the Guardians gang, interestingly enough.
More to the point — why did Ant-Man and the Wasp go up in its opening as a threequel and Guardians come down? Because the former had the added bonus of Kang the Conqueror, who Disney was fueling up as the next big villain coming off of Loki, and he was a huge part of Ant-Man‘s marketing getting Quantumania to a record 3-day $106.1M franchise best debut. GOTG3 in its execution (again inherent to the film) looked like the same old, same old; there wasn’t a big, new, notable Marvel personality to incorporate into the campaign (i.e. imagine if Harry Styles’ Starfox was part of the threequel). We’d be looking at even more money this weekend. Instead, one of the added MCU characters here in GOTG3 was Warlock.
Disney EVP Theatrical Distribution, Tony Chambers, is confident about the leg power of GOTG3, given its great audience scores, telling Deadline this AM, “This is a marathon, rather than a sprint, the international numbers are very strong.”
Still, despite the lower start here for the summer with GOTG3, there is enough product –if not more than last year–to make up ground and possibly inch up past last summer’s $3.4 billion. Last summer, there were 22 wide releases that played in north of 2,000 theaters. This summer looks like 33, still down from summer 2019’s 42 titles. Read, a bulk of the season will rest on such potential benchmarks as Little Mermaid (projected $110M opening, presales are strong), The Flash, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Barbie, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, and Spider-Man: Across the Universe.
None right now are expected to soar to $718.3M like Top Gun: Maverick. But we didn’t know what a phenomenon that sequel was until we had it. Furthermore, we have more of an August this year than last (which was dead after Bullet Train), with Blue Beetle, Meg 2, and Gran Turismo. That means more movies opening to north of $20M than last August. The question remains that in a summer with tentpoles on top of each other, even potentially going head-to-head, i.e. July 21-23 with Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, is the marketplace big enough to expand? That’s what is key in box office sustainability coming away from Covid.
“I’m not ringing any alarm bells on summer,” one distribution chief tells Deadline this morning.
Back in summer 2019, which minted $4.35 billion for the first weekend of May through Labor Day, Avengers Endgame‘s box office only repped 9% of the season (when you back out the pic’s first week, which resided in the spring season).
In regards to the number of movies that have opened to north of $100M in May, GOTG3 will put that figure at 18 titles, ranking No. 14 as of this post.
The threequel’s Friday to Saturday ease is on par with the first film’s -18% between Friday/previews and Saturday, but lower than the -8.5% dip between those respective two days on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. However, GOTG3 in regards to its box office trajectory was never suppose to be like GOTG2.
GOTG3 was shot with IMAX-certified digital cameras, and the entire movie is in expanded aspect ratio on the large format exhibitor’s screens. Pic counts $10.7M from Imax screens, the second- highest opening for those auditoriums this year. EntTelligence reports that foot traffic was 49% before 5PM, and 51% after that time.
Among other pics, Illumination/Universal/Nintendo’s fifth weekend of Super Mario Bros saw $8.2M on Saturday, +95% over Friday, for a revised weekend of $18.6M, -54%, for a running total of $518.1M.
Sony/Screen Gems’ Love Again still isn’t finding any suitors, with an $865K Saturday, -9% from Friday, for a studio reported $2.4M 3-day. No CinemaScore was recorded, however, Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score was higher than PostTrak exits at 94%. That said, Rotten Tomatoes’ critics screamed ‘stay away’ at 12% rotten. Despite the low production cost at a supposed $9M net, this opening is nothing to brag about. Even if the film is profitable for the studio–which was the case with their low-grossing genre movie, The Invitation– this amount of money doesn’t do any great favors for exhibition.
1) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Dis) 4,450 theaters, Fri $48.2M, Sat $38.8M, Sun $27M 3-day $114M/Wk 1
2.) The Super Mario Bros Movie (Uni/Ill) 3,909 (-295) theaters, Fri $4.2M (-53%), Sat $8.2M Sun $6.1M 3-day $18.6M (-54%), Total $518.1M/Wk 5
3.) Evil Dead Rise (WB) 3,036 (-381) theaters, Fri $1.68M, Sat $2.5M Sun $1.5M 3-day $5.73M (-53%), Total $54.1M/Wk 3
4.) Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (LG) 3,343 theaters, Fri $866k (-61%), Sat $1.3M, Sun $1.1M 3-day $3.38M (-50%), Total $12.6M/Wk 2
5) Love Again (Sony) 2,703 theaters, Fri $955K, Sat $865K, Sun $605K Sun 3-day $2.4M/Wk 1
6.) John Wick: Chapter 4 (LG) 1,658 (-823) theaters, Fri $593K (-51%), Sat $1M Sun $736K 3-day $2.35M (-52%), Total $180M/Wk 7
7) Dungeons & Dragons (Par) 1,751 (-958) theaters Fri $372K (-64%) Sat $670K Sun $473K 3-day $1.5M (-64%), Total $90.9M/Wk 6
8 Air (AMZ) 1,632 (-770) theaters Fri $388k (-62%) Sat $610K Sun $397K 3 day $1.39M (-65%), Total $50.2M/Wk 5
9) Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (MGM) 1,807 (-824) theaters Fri $339K (-65%) Sat $519K Sun $363K 3-day $1.22M (-66%) Total $14.77M/Wk 3
10) Sisu (LG) 1,006 theaters, Fri $300K (-78%) Sat $448K Sun $335K 3-day $1.08M (-67%) Total $5.5M/Wk 2