Guardians 2 Opens Summer With a Bang
By John Hamann
May 7, 2017
Boom! There it is! Baby Groot and friends light up the box office to $145 million, as Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 accepts the box office blockbuster baton from The Fate of the Furious.
A history lesson: Guardians of the Galaxy, a smaller Marvel property that added a Star Wars like-quality took a group of lesser-known actors, added a terrific script and a new wunderkind director in James Gunn, and literally blew up the box office despite the lack of a built-in audience or true superhero character. Box office analysts pegged it for a $60 million opening when summer 2014 began, but after a killer marketing campaign, it did $11 million during its Thursday preview and had a blastoff opening day of $37.8 million. For an original property, that's a great score, similar to other originals like The Secret Life of Pets ($38.5 million) or the first Twilight ($3 6million). The original was off to an electric start, and built on it on Saturday, earning $31 million, and had a great Sunday ($25.5 million ). That led to a killer $94.3 million opening frame, and at the time, was the best August opening ever.
Two years have passed since, but the fanbase passion for the Guardians has not subsided. The Numbers reports that the original Guardians earned another $130 million through home video (I don't believe streaming is included in that), which seems to be pretty darned good against a fellow superhero flick like Batman v Superman, which has earned $73.7 million on home video. Build up for the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (from here on known as Guardians 2) was epic going on for more than a year (one might think the Disney was trying to show women they were great lovers by all the foreplay), but it didn't feel like they had showed too much of their hand in TV ads and through trailers, so the want-to-see was still quite high for Guardians 2 heading into its massive release, which was 4,237 venues, making this blockbuster the 10th widest opening ever. If you've got $200 million on the line (in only production costs), I guess you have to go for it.
The wide release, marketing and critical and audience reaction worked, as Disney kicked it off by turning the original's $11 million preview gross into $17 million for the sequel. Giving this great start, one could imagine Disney and Marvel counting their chickens before they hatched a little, but everyone knew the original's opening weekend of $94.3 million was going down. Had the opening come in at less than $100 million, firings would have taken place at the studio. Most thought the opening day was not going to compete with Iron Man 3 ($68.9 million) but it was looking to beat Iron Man 2, which earned $51.2 million on opening day.
Additionally, there would be major pain if Guardians 2 did not beat The Fate of the Furious's opening day of $45.7 million as Disney would end up with major egg on its face for not beating the blockbuster Universal release. All things worked out, as Guardians 2 finished opening day with a strong but not out-of-this-world $56.3 million. It was enough to squeak by Iron Man 2, but now $150 million was likely out of reach for the weekend, unless the Saturday and Sunday broke records - because of the $17 million earned on Thursday. The number on the page makes it look like Guardians 2 could easily do $150 million, because anything over $50 million times three equals at least $150 million. That's not quite so easy when the "true Friday" figure is $34.2 million ($56.3 million - $17 million = True Friday). Guardians 2 was in absolutely no trouble, but if you had $150 million in the pool, your bet was looking like a loser.