Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is already out-pacing Ant-Man 3 at the box office.
Perhaps superhero fatigue has been overblown. The final movie in James Gunn’s offbeat sci-fi superhero trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, opened on Friday, and things are looking up for the beleaguered Marvel Studios. Variety reports that the movie made $48.2 million domestically on its opening day, and is on track to have this year’s second-highest opening weekend, just behind the record-breaking success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Analysts expect that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 will make between $110 and $120 million domestically by the weekend’s end. This number does not include international box office receipts, which were similarly impressive. The film has already made $35 million from its international audience, bringing its day-one total to an impressive $83 million — meaning the weekend total will almost certainly be far higher when all is said and done.
This news comes as dropping enthusiasm for superhero properties has convinced Disney to delay plans for many of its planned Disney+ Marvel shows. While there has been no official reason for the delays of shows like Secret Invasion and Loki season 2, commentators speculate that Disney is worried that it has released too many high-profile shows over too short of a period, making it hard for audiences to get excited about the next release. However, if Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 continues to make this much money, it shows that audiences are still willing to show up in force for the right film.
A successful opening weekend doesn’t guarantee that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 will be met with long-term success, however — a fact that Marvel knows well. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania made $240 million globally during its opening weekend as superhero fans flocked to theaters — but then stopped flopping shortly after. The film ultimately made $474 million — enough to make a profit, most likely, but far less than Marvel films had earned in the years past.
However, even if Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 continues attracting audiences after its opening weekend, there’s still evidence that audiences aren’t as enthusiastic about Marvel movies as they used to be. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’s opening weekend brought in $146 million — $20-30 million more than the latest film is expected to make. When even Marvel’s successes are less successful than they used to be, it’s hard to deny that some of the wind has been taken out of the studio’s sails.
It probably won’t help that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is one of the few Phase 5 Marvel movies featuring time-tested heroes. While Captain Marvel was successful enough to give hope that this year’s The Marvels will bring in a large audience, 2024’s films look a bit riskier. While fans will probably show up for Deadpool 3, Thunderbolts is a relatively unknown property that won’t attract audiences by name alone, Blade hasn’t shown up on film since 2004, and it’s unknown how audiences will react to Sam Wilson filling Steve Rogers’ shoes in Captain America: 4.