‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ blasts off with $145M

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/entertainment - BY JAKE COYLE

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” rock­eted to an es­ti­mated $145 million de­but in North Amer­ica, kick­ing off Hol­ly­wood’s sum­mer movie sea­son with some­thing the movie busi­ness has been crav­ing: a se­quel more suc­cess­ful than the orig­i­nal.

Di­rec­tor James Gunn’s sec­ond “Guardians” film opened 54 per cent higher than the 2014 run­away hit, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day.

That re­lease, which in­tro­duced the in­ter­ga­lac­tic band of mis­fits played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Sal­dana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, de­buted with $94 million in its first week­end.

Once a lit­tle-known, odd­ball prop­erty in Marvel’s vault, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” have grown into one of the comic­book fac­tory’s big­gest brands.

The Walt Dis­ney Co. val­i­dated the rise of “Guardians,” too, by mov­ing it from Au­gust (when the orig­i­nal opened) to the first week­end in May. Marvel has used the same week­end to ef­fec­tively launch the sum­mer sea­son for the last decade.

The open­ing for “Guardians Vol. 2,” made for about $200 million, is the sec­ond largest

of the year, fol­low­ing Dis­ney’s “Beauty and the Beast” ($174.8 million). But it also turns back the tide of un­der­per­form­ing se­quels, a de­vel­op­ing scourge to Hol­ly­wood. Last sum­mer saw a litany of se­quels that failed to live up to ear­lier in­stall­ments.

“We spent a lot of time look­ing at se­quels and the idea of se­quel-itis,” said David Hol­lis, dis­tri­bu­tion chief for Dis­ney. “Re­ally, poor qual­ity films have been the thing that has, more than any­thing, been re­jected by con­sumers over time. The am­bi­tion here was to make some­thing that was un­be­liev­ably fresh and ex­cit­ing. As long as we can con­tinue to de­liver high-qual­ity sto­ry­telling, high­qual­ity world-cre­ation, we’ll be in great shape.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” scored on that front, land­ing an A Cine­maS­core from au­di­ences and an 82 per cent “fresh” rat­ing from crit­ics on Rot­ten Toma­toes. In two weeks of in­ter­na­tional re­lease, the film has also made $269 million over­seas. A third “Guardians” is al­ready planned, as are crossovers with Marvel’s Avengers.

But whether “Guardians” can turn the tide for sum­mer se­quels will be a much-fol­lowed story line as the sea­son pro­gresses. The bot­tom line of just about every stu­dio de­pends

on it.

On the hori­zon are big­bud­get se­quels like “Alien: Covenant,” ”Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,“”Cars 3,“”Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight,“”De­spi­ca­ble Me 3“and ”War for the Planet of the Apes.“

“I think this is go­ing to be one of the big­gest sum­mers ever. Ob­vi­ously last sum­mer was a bum­mer. We had nu­mer­ous se­quels - well over a dozen - that didn’t live up to the promise of their im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor,” said Paul Der­garabe­dian, se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst for comS­core. “Sum­mer 2017 gets us back on track. There’s a lot out there.”

Fear­ing the might of “Guardians,” no other ma­jor stu­dio re­leases de­buted over the week­end. The gap be­tween first and sec­ond at the box of­fice was im­mense. “The Fate of the Fu­ri­ous” came in at no. 2 with $8.5 million in its fourth week­end. The Universal re­lease, the eighth in­stall­ment in the fran­chise has grossed $1.6 bil­lion world­wide.

A hand­ful of films in limited re­lease opened in­clud­ing A24’s “The Lovers,” with De­bra Winger and Tracy Letts ($70,410 on four screens); the We­in­stein Co.’s “3 Gen­er­a­tions,” with Elle Fan­ning ($20,118 on four screens); IFC’s “Chuck,” with Live Schreiber

($40,416 on four screens); and Laura Poitras’ Ju­lian As­sange doc­u­men­tary “Risk” ($75,179 on 34 screens).

Es­ti­mated ticket sales for Fri­day through Sun­day at U.S. and Cana­dian the­atres, ac­cord­ing to comS­core. Where avail­able, the lat­est in­ter­na­tional num­bers also are in­cluded. Fi­nal do­mes­tic fig­ures will be re­leased Monday.

1. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” $145 million ($124 million in­ter­na­tional).

2. “The Fate of the Fu­ri­ous,” $8.5 million.

3. “The Boss Baby,” $6.2 million.

4. “How to Be a Latin Lover,” $5.3 million.

5. “Beauty and the Beast,” $4.9 million.

6. “The Cir­cle,” $4 million.

7. “Baahubali 2: The Con­clu­sion,” $3.2 million.

8. “Gifted,” $2.1 million.

9 “Go­ing in Style,” $1.9 million.

10. “Smurfs: The Lost Vil­lage,” $1.8 million

DIS­NEY-MARVEL VIA AP

This im­age re­leased by Dis­ney-Marvel shows Zoe Sal­dana, from left, Karen Gil­lan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, in a scene from, “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.”

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