“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is dominating domestic moviegoing with about $140 million at 4,347 North American locations for its opening weekend, estimates showed Saturday.
The Disney-Marvel tentpole is kicking off the summer box office solidly — although the figure is coming in slightly lower than recent forecasts, which had pegged the launch above $150 million. Disney has been projecting the figure in the $140 million to $150 million range.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” accounted for about 85% of Friday’s total box office with $56.3 million (including Thursday’s previews).
It’s the second biggest launch weekend for a 2017 movie after “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened with $174.8 million on March 17-19, and the fifth largest opening for a Disney-Marvel film after “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: Civil War,” and “Iron Man 3.”
Should estimates hold, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” will finish the weekend about 50% above the opening of 2014’s original “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which debuted with $94 million in its first weekend.
“Vol. 2” scored $17 million in Thursday preview grosses — the third-largest for a Marvel title after “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” with $27.6 million, and “Captain America: Civil War,” with $25 million. It’s the biggest preview number for any title this year.
The original “Guardians” movie featured a band of misfit superheroes — Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as Groot, and Bradley Cooper as Rocket — teaming up against evil forces. The 2014 film was a relatively unknown property that caught on among audiences on its way to $333 million domestically and $440 million overseas.
James Gunn has returned to direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” from his own script. The film is replete with dazzling visual effects and carries a price tag of about $200 million.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opened in 53% of the international marketplace with $106 million last weekend and a foreign total of $167 million as of Thursday.
The sequel has impressed critics, earning a 82% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Shot for shot, line and line, it’s an extravagant and witty follow-up, made with the same friendly virtuosic dazzle,” Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman wrote in his mixed review.
Rival studios have opted to bypass the weekend, given the expected dominance of the sequel. Universal’s fourth weekend of “The Fate of the Furious” is leading the rest of the pack with about $9 million at 3,599 sites and should finish the frame with about $207 million domestically in its first 24 days.
Fox’s sixth weekend of “The Boss Baby” should finish third with about $5.9 million at 3,284 venues, lifting its North American total past $156 million.
Lionsgate’s second weekend of “How to be a Latin Lover” is heading for fourth with about $5.1 million at 1,203 sites, just ahead of Disney’s eighth weekend of blockbuster “Beauty and the Beast” with about $5 million at 2,680 locations. “Beauty and the Beast” should wind up with about $487 million — enough to top Disney’s “Finding Dory” for eighth place on the all-time list.