‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ beats original at box office

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ beats original at box office
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. opened 54 per cent higher than the original 2014 hit movie.  (Chuck Zlotnick / Marvel Studios)  

Sun., May 7, 2017

NEW YORK—Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 rocketed to an estimated $145 million debut. It kicked off Hollywood’s summer movie season with something the movie business has been lacking: a sequel more successful than the original.

Studio estimates released Sunday said James Gunn’s second Guardians film opened 54 per cent higher than the 2014 runaway hit. That release debuted with $94 million in its first weekend.

Once a little-known, oddball property in Marvel’s vault, the Guardians of the Galaxy have grown into one of the comic-book factory’s biggest brands.

The Walt Disney Co. validated Guardians, too, by moving it to the first weekend in May, the start of the lucrative summer movie season.

Fearing the might of Guardians, no other major studio releases debuted over the weekend.

The opening for Guardians, made for about $200 million, is the second largest of the year, following Disney’s Beauty and the Beast ($174.8 million). But it also turns back the tide of underperforming sequels, a developing scourge to Hollywood. Last summer saw a litany of sequels that failed to live up to earlier instalments.

Guardians landed an A CinemaScore from audiences and an 82 per cent “fresh” rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. In two weeks of international release, the film has also made $269 million overseas. A third Guardians is already planned, as are crossovers with Marvel’s Avengers.

But whether Guardians can turn the tide for summer sequels will be a much-followed story line as the season progresses. The bottom line of just about every studio depends on it.

On the horizon are big-budget sequels like Alien: Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Cars 3, Transformers: The Last Knight, Despicable Me 3 and War for the Planet of the Apes.

“I think this is going to be one of the biggest summers ever. Obviously last summer was a bummer. We had numerous sequels — well over a dozen — that didn’t live up to the promise of their immediate predecessor,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “Summer 2017 gets us back on track. There’s a lot out there.”

Fearing the might of Guardians, no other major studio releases debuted over the weekend. The gap between first and second at the box office was immense. The Fate of the Furious came in at no. 2 with $8.5 million in its fourth weekend. The Universal release, the eighth instalment in the franchise has grossed $1.6 billion worldwide.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
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