Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ was victorious again at the domestic box office, adding $60.5 million in its second weekend of release.
Ticket sales dropped by 49% from its debut, marking an impressive hold… at least for a superhero movie. Across more than 30 Marvel entries, only 2018’s “Black Panther” (down 45%) and 2011’s “Thor” (down 47%) have enjoyed stronger second weekend holds. By comparison, recent MCU movies such as “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” declined by nearly 70% in their sophomore outings. Those were brutal falls, even for movies that debuted to more than $100 million. They also served as reminders that Disney’s premier franchise may remain critic-proof in terms of opening weekends, but they’re no longer immune to quickly falling back down to Earth.
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That’s at least partially the reason that Disney needs the $250 million-budgeted “Guardians 3” to remain steady, especially as summer blockbuster season revs into high gear with “Fast X” on May 19 and “The Little Mermaid” on May 26. So far, the third and final installment in the James Gunn-directed Marvel trilogy has generated $213 million in North America and $528 million globally.
Elsewhere at the domestic box office, moviegoers didn’t ventured far beyond the mammoth headquarters of Knowhere. Rome, Venice, Tuscany and the other lush Italian locations in “Book Club: The Next Chapter” fielded less foot traffic than expected. The sequel to 2018’s hit septuagenarian comedy opened to $6.5 million from 3,507 North American theaters, arriving on the lower end of projections.
Critics weren’t totally charmed by the second “Book Club,” which reunites the core group of readers in Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen. Neither were audiences, who saddled the film with a “B” CinemaScore. (The first landed an “A-” grade.) The $20 million-budgeted follow-up film faces a tougher theatrical landscape than the original, which opened to $14 million and enjoyed a long life in theaters. Still, given the built-in awareness that benefits the second film in a franchise, it’s surprising that opening ticket sales were significantly lower than Paramount’s “80 for Brady,” a similarly lightweight comedy targeting older females. It opened earlier this year to $12.7 million and ended its run with $40 million.
“Older audiences take their time getting to these movies,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “At a cost of $20 million, with modest foreign potential, ‘Book Club 2’ will need that kind of staying power to be profitable.”
“Book Club: The Next Chapter” landed in third place behind “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which scored a remarkable $13 million from 3,800 venues in its sixth weekend of release. The animated video game adaptation has grossed $535.9 million in North America and $1.21 billion globally.
Another holdover, the Warner Bros. supernatural horror sequel “Evil Dead Rise,” took the No. 4 spot with $3.7 million from 2,821 theaters. It’s become a modest box office hit with $60.1 million in North America and $131 million globally.
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” rounded out the top five, adding $2.5 million for Mother’s Day weekend. The coming-of-age film from Lionsgate has now earned $16.5 million in North America.
Also opening this weekend, “Hypnotic,” a sci-fi action thriller starring Ben Affleck and directed by Robert Rodriguez, bombed in its debut with $2.3 million from 2,118 cinemas. It landed a dismal “C+” CinemaScore and a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn’t promising for word of mouth. Ketchup Entertainment and Relativity Media released “Hypnotic,” which was originally backed by Solstice Studios before the indie distributor folded in 2022.
“This is a weak opening for a film that was conceived before the pandemic,” Gross says. “The movie cost around $65 million to make. Even five years ago, that was a lot of money for a routine crime mystery.”
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