Summer movie season has arrived, and things are looking up. Nobody is going to be able to catch The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Are there any potential breakouts like Top Gun: Maverick from last year, where a combination of nostalgia, a two-year wait time, genuine delight, and word-of-mouth will propel anything into the stratosphere?
The summer of 1989 beckoned, and I’d like to offer a final Indiana Jones adventure and Michael Keaton’s comeback as Batman in The Flash as contenders, at the very least for the summer crown. However, the only films to debut as late as those in the summer and win were Marvel’s Black Widow in the shortened summer of 2021 and Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014. This week, James Gunn’s Vol. 3 attempts to make its case for summer supremacy, but it may require more evidence.
The Summer Movie Season Begins with A Bang with King of The Crop: Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 began its run with an estimated $114 million after opening with $17.5 million on Thursday. That is the third-lowest total for a picture debuting to $15 million in “previews,” after only Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($22.5 million / $77.8 million opening) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ($16 million / $102.6 million debut).
Sorry for starting with such pessimism, but consider this. In the past, a $115 million opening guaranteed the MCU a $300 million domestic gross. Every single film that opened to at least that amount achieved the milestone, and Guardians 3 is on the verge of doing the same, with the final statistics expected on Monday. The first two Marvel films to do so (despite grossing less than $100 million) were 2008’s Iron Man and the original Guardians of the Galaxy. (Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed over $390 million and had a $92.5 million weekend after only three days in cinemas.)
Back in February, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum of Solace barely doubled its $106 million debut, however, some may point to its “B” CinemaScore as evidence of a loss of its core audience, who had previously scored Marvel below its usual “A-” and above. Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, and the sequel to Doctor Strange all received a “B” or a “B+.” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may have changed things with its basis, as it obtained an “A” rating, the same as the original two Guardians.
However, 21 MCU films scored an “A” or an “A+” and had an average multiple of 2.88. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 grosses around $328 million on average. On the half-full side, the last four MCU films have averaged a multiple of only 2.27, putting Vol. 3 at around $258 million. Potentially disastrous swings. The film will remain at No. 1 for one more week before Fast X arrives, so next week will tell a larger story for the $250 million movie, which will require three-quarters of a billion dollars to break even. Its global total will be $282 million after this weekend.
The Top 10 and Beyond: John Wick and Air Hit Milestones, Mario Finally Falls
The other Chris Pratt film in the top ten lost its four-week lead at the box office, but it became the 19th film in history to gross more than $500 million domestically. The Super Mario Bros. Movie earned an additional $18.6 million in its fifth weekend, ranking it 15th all-time. After 38 days, it has earned $518 million, the 12th-highest amount ever for that time period.
The picture is currently $23 million below the pace set by Incredibles 2, which grossed $608 million in its second weekend and had a $16.2 million fifth weekend. For the time being, Mario may be aiming to land anywhere between Titanic’s initial theatrical run and 2019’s The Lion King, making it the 14th highest-grossing film in North America. It is currently worth $1.15 billion worldwide, just missing the top 25 all-time.
With $5.7 million, Evil Dead Rise dropped to third place. This raises the horror film’s total to $54.1 million, putting it on par with Kill Bill Vol. 2, which earned a $5.8 million third weekend, taking its 17-day total to $52.6 million. That puts the final domestic estimate for Evil Dead somewhere between $65-70 million, a respectable hit for Warner Bros.
Unfortunately, Are You There God? the year’s best-reviewed picture, is not. Hello, my name is Margaret. It was reduced to $3.2 million, for a total of $12.5 million. It will outgross Kelly Fremon Craig’s previous film, The Edge of Seventeen ($14.4 million), but Lionsgate did not publicize it, and it will not repay its $30 million budget.
Sony released one of the year’s worst-reviewed films, Love Again (12%), into 2,703 theaters, grossing $2.4 million. Clearly, there was a reason why the Priyanka Chopra-Jonas relationship was not pre-screened for critics. However, two more of the year’s best-reviewed films achieved minor milestones. John Wick: Chapter 4 earned another $2.3 million, bringing its total to more than $180 million, while Ben Affleck’s Air earned $1.6 million, crossing the $50 million milestone. While Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves received positive reviews and grossed more than $90 million, it remains a flop for Paramount.
On the Vine: Paramount Hopes Audiences Will Join Their Book Club for The Next Chapter
The lone competition for Guardians next weekend is Book Club: The Next Chapter, starring Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, and Diane Keaton. Focus Features is taking over the distribution of this film from Paramount, which grossed $68.5 million in the summer of 2018. Look for Ben Affleck in Robert Rodriguez’s Hypnotic and, in limited release, the story of the invention of the first smartphone in Matt Johnson’s Blackberry, starring Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton, which has a Tomatometer score of 97%.