James Gunn bids farewell to his work for rival Marvel with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in theaters across the globe this weekend. The movie is expected to open domestically in the $120 million range.
James Gunn wrote and directed the final installment of his Marvel Studios franchise before being asked to revive rival DC Studios with partner Peter Safran. Now that he’s the guardian of DC Studios, James Gunn is bidding farewell to his work for rival Marvel with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in theaters across the globe this weekend.
Guardians 3 continues a long tradition of Marvel movies kicking off the summer season at the box office. It also unfurls on the heels of CinemaCon, the annual gathering of theater owners and Hollywood studios in Las Vegas. This year’s show was decidedly upbeat despite the threat of a writers strike (the strike is now officially underway). The good mood was due in large part to the stunning success of Universal and Illumination’s The Super Bros. Movie, which has joined the billion-box office club.
It’s unusual for a title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to open behind the previous installment in a respective series, but not unheard of. Those that have include sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — which was released as the pandemic still raged on — and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Insiders at Marvel and parent company Disney are keen on Guardians 3, and believe it will benefit from good word of mouth. As of now, however, the film currently sports the lowest Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score of Gunn’s three movies. It’s also the longest in the series at two hours and 30 minutes.
Box office analysts say they wouldn’t be surprised if Guardians 3 comes in higher, and that tracking has been complicated by the massive success of Mario, whose voice cast is led by Guardians‘ star Chris Pratt, who had to find time to promote both movies.
Marvel could use a hit after the disappointing box office performance of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which opened ahead of the two previous Ant-Man installments but topped at a franchise-low $476.4 million worldwide.
In terms of the Guardian franchise, according to Comscore, unadjusted, the 2014 film earned $333.7 million domestically and $439.6 million for a global booty of $773.3 million. Guardians Vol. 2 took in $863.8 million worldwide, including $389.8 million domestically and $473.09 million overseas.
China turned in a sizable $86.3 million of the first film’s total gross, and $100.7 million for the 2017 sequel. But in the pandemic-era, Hollywood has seen seen many of its films turned away by Chinese government authorities — and Marvel titles in particular.
And while Guardians 3 is opening day-and-date in China this weekend, it goes up against a high-profile Chinese title.
Marvel insiders praise Gunn for making a proper send-off that’s tinged both with emotion and humor.
Guardians 3 reunites writer-director James Gunn with Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldaña (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Sean Gunn (Kraglin), Bradley Cooper (Rocket) and Vin Diesel (Groot). Newcomers include Chukwudi Iwuji as villain High Evolutionary and Will Poulter as classic Marvel character Adam Warlock.
This new Guardians of the Galaxy movie focuses on Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Cooper and played by Sean Gunn on set in motion-capture.