By Michael Lynderey
May 5, 2017
Everybody knows what’s going to win May (sigh), so all I really care about here is the race for second. There, three films are in contention: dueling pirates fight off a challenge by feuding, linebacker-sized lifeguards, while chest-sucking space monsters prowl in the shadows. If you like none of the above, you can join me in rooting for Goldie Hawn.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5th)
A Marvel comics adaptation kicks off the summer movie season… again (actually, despite all my complaining about it, this is only the 11th time in a row that this has happened!). If you saw Mission: Impossible 3 over its May 5, 2006 opening weekend and remarked to yourself what a pleasure it was to open the summer with a film that was not based on a Marvel comic book… you may have to wait about 20 years from that day to be able to say it again.
The action is led by Chris Pratt, who looks like an auburn Paul Rudd and talks like a Yankee Matthew McConaughey, if such a thing were possible. Most of the original cast has also returned - perennial player of aliens Zoe Saldana, B-action regular Dave Bautista, and the voices and grunts of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as now-iconic plants and animals (you know their names). Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan are lovable rogues, and the big new addition is Kurt Russell, currently busy playing Mr. Exposition in the latest Adam Sandler movie, The Fate of the Furious.
As best as I can understand it, everyone really digs the Guardians, but the original film is more interesting to me for its superhero origin story than much else: it arrived at the tail end of summer 2014, which to that point had been home only to a middling collection of financially-unimpressive blockbusters, a troubled landscape where the average big movie opened to something like $90 million, impressed some die-hard fans, and then dropped big and vanished quickly, never to be seen or heard from again. Guardians broke the cycle. Without visible movie stars or a pre-established concept, and including among its cast a gun-toting, impolite raccoon, the film rode its enthusiastic reviews and Marvel goodwill signpost to easily win the summer with a $333 million total, a victory no one had expected, and the only time so far in the 21st century that a summer’s biggest movie had come out in August. Right place, right time, right summer.
This time, this summer, Guardians will, of course, win the season again, and the oncoming landslide shall not surprise a soul (brave but outmatched challengers will include June’s Despicable Me 3 and July’s Iron Man: Homecoming, which guest stars Spider-Man and Michael Keaton). Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will probably stay ahead of Disney’s Guardians as the year’s biggest film, if only until Disney’s annual
Friday the 13th Star Wars sequel gets here (a studio having three of its own films fight it out for number one is such a first world problem).
As I also never tire of recounting, not a single one of the fourteen Marvel Cinematic Universe films has ever, never, ever, just truly never, been stamped with a “Rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a fact that I find mostly kind of creepy and annoying (remember, imperfection creates brilliance, and true genius is often divisive). Guardians 2 is, of course, rated fresh, and should excite its base of Marvel enthusiasts enough to easily open in the high hundred millions and finish somewhere in the four hundreds… just the same as the last three Marvel Cinematic Universe films to open over this weekend, Iron Man 3, Avengers 2, and Captain America 3, and as will the next two, Avengers 3 (2018) and 4 (2019) [can’t we have a Saw movie start off the summer for a change? I also hear the new Texas Chainsaw film is looking for a release date. C’mon.].
Opening weekend: $162 million / Total gross: $444 million