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‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2’ To Blast Off Summer With $140M-$160M Domestic Opening

Deadline logo Deadline 5/2/2017 Anthony D'Alessandro
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Here comes summer.

After stoking the media two weeks ago with early screenings, Disney’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is looking at a U.S./Canada opening between $140 million-$160 million at about 4,300 theaters.

No other summer in box office history has ever clicked past the $5 billion mark for the May-through-Labor Day period (2013 came closest with $4.75B), so here’s to GOTG2 getting the industry off on the right foot. For the frame of January 1-April 30, the 2017 box office counts $3.7B, 4.3% ahead of the same period a year ago. And as everyone knows, last year ultimately churned out an industry record $11.4B.

Even though Guardians 2’s FSS number won’t topple the all-time May record set by Marvel’s The Avengers ($207.4M), what’s impressive is that the comic-book label proves again that most superhero sequels can outstrip their predecessors’ openings — in the case of Guardians 2, its three-day will whip the first movie’s $94.3M opening by at least 59%. Should GOTG2 hit the high end of its estimates, it will rank as the 11th-best opening ever at the domestic box office, and the fifth best for May after Avengers, Avengers: Age Of Ultron ($191.3M), Captain America: Civil War ($179.1M), and Iron Man 3 ($174.1M).

The $20M swing in GOTG2‘s prediction stems from tracking’s nature: When pics are forecasted beyond $100M over three days, pinpointing their exact outcome is a harder statistical challenge for analysts. In fact, there’s one outlying tracker who believes the sequel will open to $100M, and that the movie is playing too young in its Baby Groot promotions. But that firm is in the minority.

That’s because GOTG2 has a lot of steam behind it. After Hollywood journalists were given a tour of the Marvel offices in Burbank two weeks ago, along with a screening of the film, the pic now sits on Rotten Tomatoes with an 85% certified fresh score, which isn’t that far from the 2014’s 91% fresh rating. Marvel knows it needs critics on their side for a long-legged superhero summer success.

On Fandango, GOTG2 is already beating Avengers: Age Of Ultron in advance tickets sales, and that Marvel movie opened to $191.3M two years ago. GOTG2 is also blessed with $80M in promo spots across Ford, Geico, Hanes and Dairy Queen to name a few of the pic’s promo partners. The GOTG2 soundtrack alone is one of its biggest pieces of marketing with its canon of 1970s songs having already pushed 34,000 copies after an April 21 digital drop and April 28 CD sale. The first GOTG soundtrack of 1960s and ’70s tunes sold 1.75M units in 2014, was the fifth best-selling album that year.

In addition, one big circuit exhibition chief told us that after GOTG2 logged a $106M overseas opening (foreign cume currently at $133M), that heat wave would travel over to the U.S. and potentially tip the sequel’s opening north of $150M stateside.

Here in the states, GOTG2 will have extra rocket fuel from 3,800-plus 3D locations, 388 Imax screens, 588 premium large-format locations, and 194 D-Box locations. Previews start Thursday at 7 PM. The last two Marvel movies that kicked off May, Ultron and Civil War, drew 33% of their Friday business from Thursday night, earning $27.6M and $25M in previews, respectively.

In 550 theaters around the country Thursday, a special RealD Guardians Of The Galaxy double feature event will lead into those 7 PM shows. Guests who participate in the special fan event will receive an exclusive mini poster and a set of souvenir collectible buttons. Participating exhibitors for the double feature include AMC, Cinemark, Cineplex, National Amusements, and Regal Cinemas.

K-12 schools are still in session, with 16% of colleges on summer break. However, that has never hurt that crowd from coming out during the first weekend of May.

In addition to North America, GOTG2 debuts in Korea (May 3), Russia and Argentina (May 4), and China (May 5). Pic hits Japan on May 12.

In regards to the competition, Universal’s The Fate Of The Furious  is expected to get dinged 60% by Star Lord and friends for a fourth weekend just under $8M. The F. Gary Gray movie will finally cross $200M this weekend stateside, becoming the fourth title in the series to do so. Pantelion/Lionsgate’s How To Be A Latin Lover is looking at a 35%-40% ease in Week 2 for $6.7M-$7.4M. “People love it,” compliments a rival distribution chief.

Also, don’t underestimate Great India Films’ Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, which could log between $5M-$6M. Pic’s cume through yesterday totaled $10.9M.

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