Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Box Office Predictions are Low

The Guardians’ last ride may have some trouble taking off. According to Deadline, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the final installment in the series and the next Marvel Cinematic Universe release, is tracking for a $130 million domestic opening weekend. On the surface, that may not look bad (and Deadline sure goes out of its way to explain why it’s totally awesome, you guys, come on now), but a few comparisons demonstrate how disappointing it is. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as Deadline observes, opened higher at $146.5 million, which isn’t a huge difference – until you adjust for inflation. Adjusted, Vol. 2 would have made around $172,665,884.86 (and that’s a rounded-down general calculation). That means Vol. 3 looks like it’ll sell significantly fewer tickets than Vol. 2 on opening weekend and presumably beyond. Vol. 2 made $863,756,051 worldwide, which is just over $1 billion today; as of now, it doesn’t look like Vol. 3 will reach that mark.

What about Phase 4 and 5 movies? After Spider-Man: No Way Home, which was a massive hit, the biggest MCU grosser was Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which made $955,775,804. That film’s domestic opening weekend haul was $187,420,998, over $55 million more than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is projected to make. Multiverse of Madness was released on the opening weekend of May to kick off the summer movie season, just as Guardians is this year. For reference, both previous Guardians movies made more money than the first Doctor Strange, and while Multiverse of Madness made more than both in raw numbers, it makes less than Vol. 2 and just $10 million more than the first Guardians when you adjust for inflation.

There’s also the rest of phases 4 and 5 to consider, or at least the films featuring established characters. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which underperformed bigly, was tracking for a $120 million domestic opening weekend; it made $106 million, and it was all downhill from there. Going back further, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever fell in line with its opening weekend predictions (though on the more conservative side), but its overall domestic take was significantly less than expected. Thor: Love and Thunder similarly started on track in its opening weekend before dropping huge when people saw it and needed lobotomies to forget the experience. Outside of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, nothing Marvel has put out lately has hit the highs Disney has wanted, and the predictions for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 don’t forecast a turn-around anytime soon.

Now, there are some things working in the Guardians’ favor (and not the things Deadline says, which are dumb; I see a commercial for this movie every time I watch anything on a streaming service and a trailer every time I go to the theater, so save your “The marketing campaign hasn’t really started” bologna for the tourists). First is the quality; I think most people expect Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to be a good movie, and probably Casablanca compared to the rest of Phase 4 and Phase 5 (outside of Spidey). Quality and word of mouth could keep this afloat similarly to No Way Home and Top Gun: Maverick, though not to the same extent. It’s also likely that this movie will focus on the characters instead of taking detours for identity politics or cheerleading ideologies; I don’t expect the story to stop short so Rocket Raccoon can lecture us about the value of socialism, for example.

Guardians of the Galaxy box office

And finally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is maybe the last MCU movie that features some of the original gangsters – the characters people actually like – and isn’t going to have some newbie upstage them. It’s not a Black Panther movie without Black Panther or a Thor movie where his girlfriend takes his powers and his name. Unless the trailers are a massive bait-and-switch, this is the Guardians being the Guardians, taking center stage, rescuing one of their own, and saving the galaxy from a cosmic supervillain while cracking jokes and having fun. This is what people who like these movies sign up for, and whatever reluctance there is for this one – superhero fatigue (if you will), a distrust of Disney, the last bunch of Marvel movies and TV shows – I think everyone suspects that’s the case. This kind of feels like the last hurrah for the MCU as we used to know it, the final post-Endgame holdover that’s here to entertain instead of lecture. It could be that people are too checked out to care anymore, but maybe that’ll be enough.

If not, I guess it’s up to The Marvels to save the MCU.

Comments (1)

April 20, 2023 at 1:39 pm

I am kinda hopeful for this movie since the script was written BEFORE phase 4 but I know one thing; if this movie ends up great (which I really hope for) this will not save MCU. It will simply be MCU’s last good movie!

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