‘Guardians’ Vs. ‘Avengers': ‘Vol. 2’ Could Top ‘Age of Ultron’ on Box Office Blastoff

Ticket presales for Chris Pratt’s Marvel sequel outpacing 2015’s “Avengers”

Yes, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is sizing up to be that big.

The comic book sequel starring Chris Pratt has long been expected to continue the tradition of a Marvel movie kicking off the summer blockbuster season in a huge way. And now Marvel may be on the cusp of topping itself: The upcoming “Guardians” opening weekend is already poised to rival the studio’s crown jewels — the “Avengers” movies.

Disney is currently showing characteristic caution with their projections for the sequel to James Gunn‘s hit 2014 space adventure, expecting at least $140 million domestically this weekend after the film racked up $132.9 million from 37 overseas markets this past week. But history shows that “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” will have no problem blowing by that target. Whether they come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or one of Marvel’s external properties, like “X-Men,” a Marvel movie has come out in the first weekend of May every year since 2007, and the top five biggest domestic openings for Marvel movies have come from this release slot.

Fifth on that list is “Spider-Man 3,” which made $151 million in 2007. The four films above that are MCU titles, starting with “Iron Man 3” ($174.1 million) and followed by “Captain America: Civil War” ($179.1 million), “Avengers: Age of Ultron” ($191.2 million), and at the top, “The Avengers,” with $207.4 million in its opening weekend in 2012. Those four MCU films also went on to gross a billion worldwide.

Based on that data, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a lock to at least hit the $150-170 million range set by independent trackers, but ticket presale data hints that the film might get an opening that could even reach “Age of Ultron” territory. According to Fandango, ticket presales for “Vol. 2” are outpacing that of the “Avengers” sequel released two years ago. We saw Disney enjoy a similar trend earlier this year, when “Beauty and the Beast” passed “Finding Dory” to become the top family film preseller in the history of the site.

The result? The live-action remake easily waltzed past the $120-150 million opening weekend projections set for it and finished with a $174 million opening. Surging presales could be a good omen again for Disney, allowing Star-Lord and his band of cosmic mercenaries to bring in a haul on the same level as their counterparts in Avengers HQ, perhaps even surpassing “Civil War,” and better yet, “Age of Ultron.”

Even if they don’t reach such lofty heights, the numbers that will roll in this weekend will be a testament to how James Gunn and Marvel Studios have turned a group of obscure Marvel characters into pop culture icons as popular among moviegoers as Batman or Iron Man. The first “Guardians” racked up a $94 million opening en route to a $773 million global cume, a total “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2” should eclipse. That Marvel Studios moved this sequel from a late July release date to its highly valued early May release space shows how much confidence it has in their IP.

“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.