Did someone say superhero fatigue? Not with James Gunn at the helm.
In its second week in theaters, the director’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 proved that audiences are still willing to take the risk of seeing a costumed hero on the big screen. Box office receipts for most blockbusters drop 50% to 70% from opening weekend to week two. Gunn’s third Guardians of the Galaxy story is down just 47.6 percent, suggesting that even casual fans consider it a must-see movie.
It was the smallest second-week drop for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film since 2018’s “Black Panther,” which fell just 44.7%, according to Comscore. That was the third-best second-week drop for any MCU film since 2008, trailing only “Thor,” which fell 47.2 percent in its second week in 2011.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” added $62 million domestically on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bringing its domestic total to $214.7 million. Worldwide, the film grossed just under $530 million.
By comparison, the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie grossed $773.3 million worldwide during its 2014 release, while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 grossed $863.6 million worldwide during its 2017 release.
The strong box office of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. disney CEO Bob Iger has publicly expressed concern. The executive openly questioned whether Marvel should continue to create third and fourth films for established traditional characters, rather than exploring new heroes, anti-heroes, and villains.
His comments came on the sidelines of the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference in March, following disappointing box office performances for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
The third Ant-Man fell 69.8% from its first week to its second, the biggest drop of any MCU film. Meanwhile, Comscore data shows that the fourth “Thor” standalone movie saw a 67.6% decline at the box office, the third-best of all MCU films. 2021’s “Black Widow” came in second with a 67.8% drop, partly because the film was released during the pandemic and partly because it hit theaters and Disney+ on the same day.
Week two numbers are sometimes more important than opening weekend numbers. Showbiz analysts typically see the decline as an indicator of whether a film will live long at the box office or fail quickly.
Sean Robbins said: “This is a win for Disney, Marvel, James Gunn, theaters and audiences in general because it demonstrates the power of premium blockbuster movies on such an important pillar in 2023 and why Opening weekends don’t always tell the full story,” said Chief Analyst at BoxOffice.com.
The mainstay of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has traditionally dropped more than 50% at the box office after hitting sky-high prices on its opening weekend. While these types of movies can continue to hit billion-dollar theaters or more, this metric can indicate whether word-of-mouth is bringing new audiences to theaters, or if interest is waning.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said: “As a pure reflection of audiences’ positive sentiment towards a film, nothing is more indicative of a film’s popularity among audiences than a modest second weekend decline. It resonated strongly.”
The release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 also marked the symbolic end of Gunn’s era at one comics studio and the beginning of his reign at another. Gunn was named alongside producer Peter Safran warner bros foundDC Studios last year.
Because of this, the success of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy 3” actually indicates the future of DC. It’s a sign that Gunn has his finger on the pulse and that it’s possible to achieve similar results in his new studio.
Of course, Gunn has already dabbled in the DC Universe with 2021’s “Suicide Squad.” The film grossed just under $200 million worldwide as it was released on HBO Max and in theaters at the height of the pandemic, but was well received by critics and audiences alike.
Gunn and Safran have a 10-year plan to revive their TV and film franchises, including new adaptations of Superman and Batman. Gunn himself will write, direct and direct Superman: Legacy.