‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Sets Course for $125 Million-Plus Opening in Early Box Office Projections

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James Gunn’s Marvel swan song is on track to trump his 2014 debut but come in below the $146.5 million opening of “Vol. 2”

Marvel Studios

The first round of box office projections for Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” have James Gunn’s final film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe earning an opening weekend of at least $125 million-$130 million.

It’s worth noting that early box office projections, which are released by trackers three weeks before a film’s premiere, can differ greatly from the pre-release projections just before the film hits theaters, whether it be due to the success or failure of a film’s marketing, how early social media buzz and critics reviews affects audience interest, and other factors.

But for now, tracking for “Guardians Vol. 3” is predicted for an opening weekend lower than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which opened to $146.5 million in May 2017. It would also mean that the $146.3 million three-day opening of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” would retain its status as the highest opening weekend of 2023 so far.

Trailers for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” have sold the film not just as the end of a trilogy but also the end of this cinematic incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy as fans know it, with the strong possibility that at least one of its members will be killed off. Meanwhile, “Guardians” cast member Dave Bautista has confirmed that “Vol. 3” will be his last film as Drax the Destroyer, further creating buzz among fans that Gunn has several dark turns in store.

“Guardians Vol. 3” also comes as the MCU has taken a critical and commercial downturn in recent years compared to its heyday in the 2010s as the undisputed franchise king at the box office.

While 2022 films like “Thor: Love & Thunder,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” were hit films with more than $2 billion combined in global grosses, Marvel’s latest film “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” fell flat, grossing less than $500 million worldwide amidst tepid critical and audience reception.

It remains to be seen whether the years of audience goodwill built around the Guardians of the Galaxy will allow “Vol. 3” to perform as strongly as its predecessors at the box office even with the loss of China as a major international market, or whether the darker tone that Gunn has promised and the growing dissatisfaction with recent Marvel titles among fans will weigh down ticket sales.