Marvel finally unveiled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 during Thursday night preview screenings, and if the numbers are any indication, this Phase 3 sequel will kick off the summer movie season in a huge way. The intergalactic superhero adventure took in a whopping $17 million from these Thursday sneak peeks, which is by no means a record, but it is the highest Thursday preview this year. However, this could indicate that the Guardians 2 opening weekend will come in a bit lower than initially expected.
Deadline reports that Vol. 2's $17 million Thursday tally is the fourth highest among Marvel movies, behind Avengers: Age of Ultron ($27.6 million), Captain America: Civil War ($25 million) and The Avengers ($18.7 million). All three of those movies were May releases, with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War both earning $84.4 million and $75.5 million respectively on their first full day of release. While early projections were putting this Guardians sequel at $160 million for its opening weekend, after these Thursday figures, it is believed that Guardians 2 will pull in between $55 million and $60 million on Friday, for an opening weekend between $125 million and $130 million.
The critically-acclaimed Guardians 2, which is currently at 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, opens in 4,347 theaters today, the 10th-widest release of all time, just two theaters behind The Avengers, which opened in 4,349 theaters almost exactly five years ago today. Guardians 2's $17 million Thursday tally also bests its predecessor's $11.2 million Thursday tally, and it will certainly have no trouble surpassing the original Guardians' $94.3 million opening weekend, with the sequel expected to out-gross the original by at least 33%. The movie was produced with a whopping $200 million budget, before publicity and advertising, but Marvel has already almost earned that back in its international debut.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opened in several international territories last weekend, earning an impressive $167 million from 31 market. The movie opened in a number of other international markets last night, but aside from the domestic box office, many are looking to see how this superhero sequel fares in its China debut today. The original Guardians of the Galaxy earned an impressive $96 million in China, the highest of any international territory and more than double its closest competitor, the United Kingdom ($47.3 million). The Chinese market has grown by leaps and bounds since then, so it will be intriguing to see how these intergalactic Guardians fares in the Middle Kingdom.
It seems likely that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which has a whopping 5 post-credit scenes, could easily dominate for at least one more weekend, depending on how big it opens. Opening next weekend is Warner Bros. King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword and 20th Century Fox's Snatched, both of which shouldn't give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a run for its money, but it may run into trouble the following weekend, with the highly-anticipated release of 20th Century Fox's Alien: Covenant. Although Alien: Covenant is an R-rated movie, it will be facing the Guardians in its third frame, and if it builds enough buzz and hype throughout the next few weeks it should be able to put these Guardians down, but we'll have to wait and see.