‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Must Make the Most of Next Weekend’s Box Office

With the rave audience reception once taken for granted when it comes to Marvel films, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” has everything it needs for a strong second weekend at the box office. And it will need that, given the competition that is on its way.

Analysts and rival distributors told TheWrap they currently estimate “Guardians Vol. 3” pulling in a $50 million-$55 million second weekend, which would equate to a 54-58% drop from the film’s $118 million opening weekend. That’s higher than the typical second-weekend drop pre-pandemic at 51%, but in line with the 57% movies have averaged since then, based on data box office analyst Bruce Nash has analyzed.

A total in the $50 million-plus range would be below the $61.7 million second weekend of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” in May last year, but would beat the $46 million second weekend of “Thor: Love and Thunder” and the poor $31.9 million second weekend of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which suffered the worst second-weekend drop in Marvel Studios history.

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It would also keep “Guardians Vol. 3” on course for a final domestic total of around $300 million, making it another solid box-office hit on the same level as Marvel’s 2022 blockbusters. Whether it can push beyond that and get closer the the $343 million domestic total of “Thor: Love and Thunder” will come down to whether casual audiences sustain interest not just this weekend, but through the rest of May.

Many Marvel releases that hit theaters in early May have enjoyed premium format support all the way until Memorial Day weekend, helping bring in extra money for three weekends. But “Guardians Vol. 3” will only have two weekends of premium support before formats like Imax and Dolby transition to the release of Universal’s “Fast X” on May 19 and then to “The Little Mermaid” on Memorial Day weekend.

It is possible that the word of mouth for “Guardians Vol. 3” is able to sustain the film even during what is setting up to be a busy Memorial Day weekend, but that will depend both on the film’s ability to continue drawing in new moviegoers and whether its replay value will remain high among hardcore Marvel fans, not to mention the theatrical market’s ability to support multiple tentpole films the way it did prior to the pandemic.

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While the Guardians continue their run, Focus Features is set to release “Book Club: The Next Chapter,” a sequel to the 2018 Paramount comedy about four women played by Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen and Diane Keaton who decide to spice up their lives after reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” as part of their longtime book club. While the original “Book Club” opened to $13.5 million, Focus is projecting a quieter $7 million-$10 million start from 3,507 locations.

Focus is hoping that solid turnout from older women during Mother’s Day weekend will allow “Book Club: The Next Chapter” to have decent legs as tentpole counterprogramming. That might be the case as the sequel has an early 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes from advance screenings, though critics are mixed with a 55% score.

“Book Club 2” may also get some competition for moms’ attention from Lionsgate’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Kelly Fremon Craig’s adaptation of the classic Judy Blume novel has had a muted box office run with just $12.8 million grossed so far, though Lionsgate is hoping to build word of mouth for a strong hold this weekend from audiences choosing the film for Mother’s Day. Whether that puts a dent in “Book Club 2” is unclear.

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