“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” blasted to $17 million during Thursday previews, making it the highest preview gross of 2017.
In comparison, the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” earned $11.2 million in Thursday previews in 2014. Earlier this year, Fox’s “Logan” earned $9.5 million on Thursday night, while last year’s “Doctor Strange” grossed $9.4 million. However, “Guardians 2” could not level up to “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Captain America: Civil War,” which earned $27.6 million and $25 million when they bowed on Thursday, respectively.
Disney is expecting at least $140 million domestically this weekend as the comic book movie sequel opens in 4,347 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. However, independent trackers think the film starring Chris Pratt in the lead will hit at least $150 million to $170 million. Ticket presale data hints that the film will get an opening that could reach “Age of Ultron” territory, given that “Vol. 2” is outpacing ticket sales of the “Avengers” sequel two years ago.
This comes after the blockbuster’s stellar opening in 37 overseas markets this week, racking up $167 million abroad so far.
The first “Guardians” film opened to $94.3 million in the U.S. and Canada in 2014 and went on to earn $333.2 million domestically and $773.3 million worldwide.
“Vol. 2” takes place approximately three months after the first film, as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) comes face-to-face with Ego (Kurt Russell), the living planet who is his long-lost father. The original cast is all back, including Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, and Michael Rooker. Newcomers in the cast include Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, and Sylvester Stallone. Gunn is writing and directing the sequel and has signed on to be writer-director for a third installment. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is producing.