Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Starts Theatrical Run with Perfectly Balanced Box Office

·3 min read
IMAX poster for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 showing most of the main cast.
IMAX poster for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 showing most of the main cast.

Even though it probably didn’t feel like it before release, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is finally in theaters. The final installment in James Gunn’s sci-fi comedy series (and his last Marvel movie for the foreseeable future) has had a longer than expected wait, but that hardly seems to matter. With solid reviews and audience reactions, the third solo outing for the MCU’s cosmic misfits has started off its box office run both better and less than it was projected.

Variety reports that Guardians 3 has opened to a $282 million global box office. Domestically, its $114 million take is less than the initial expectations of $120 million, and is a noticeable step backwards from the $146 million of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 back in 2017. Internationally, the film earned $168 million, with what’s said to be a surprising boost of $28 million from China. It’s the third MCU movie to be released in the country since Spider-Man: Far From Home back in 2019, and most Hollywood movies there have been doing decently enough.

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The six-year gap between proper installments works both for and against Guardians 3. While it wouldn’t be wrong to say that there’s some kind of burnout happening in recent months for both superhero movies at large and the MCU more specifically, folks have had enough time to actually miss the Guardians. And with this one openly marketing itself as the final hurrah for these characters, however real that may or may not be for some of them, that finality would hit for audiences with some kind of investment.

Domestically, Guardians 3 is now the second-highest opening weekend of the year behind Chris Pratt’s other big movie, Super Mario Bros. Having been knocked to second place, the Illumination film crossed the $500 million threshold here in North America for an global total of $1.155 billion. And in third place was Evil Dead Rise from late April, which added $5.7 million in the states for an overall take of $54 million. Now nearing $115 million globally, Rise is both the highest-grossing movie in the horror series and a good case for why movies originally meant for HBO Max should get theatrical runs.

MCU movies usually have the remainder of their release month to themselves, but Guardians 3 has some big competition in the weeks ahead. For starters, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases next week for the Nintendo Switch and will take up the waking moments of pretty much everyone who owns the console. Movie-wise, May 19's Fast X may come for the Guardians’ crown, followed by The Little Mermaid’s remake the following weekend on May 26. The latter film will have the added bonus of coming out on Memorial Day weekend, and is currently projected to have a $110 million domestic opening.

Either way, the Guardians’ end marks some kind of turning point for the MCU at large, whether or not it makes waves in theaters over the next several weeks.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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