‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Box Office Success Hinges on Rocket’s Origin Story

The summer box office season kicks off this weekend with the release of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. Ultimately, its success will hinge on whether fans enjoy learning Rocket’s origin story and the resulting word of mouth.

MCU movies shouldn’t just be blockbuster hits. They are expected to be the biggest hits of the year. But after “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” failed to gross less than $500 million worldwide, it remains to be seen whether that film’s critical and commercial struggles will continue to undermine Marvel’s appeal for the mainstream. audiences and will prevent future titles from reaching the $750 million+ benchmark that all Marvel movies of the last year were able to reach despite less than stellar receptions.

As the final installment in a trilogy centered around some of the most popular characters in the MCU canon, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” should have a good chance of box office success. What’s not so certain is whether this trio can reach the $863 million that “Guardians Vol. 2” achieved in 2017 in a market where Chinese interest in Hollywood movies has all but died out and where ticket pre-sales are weaker than expected.

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Currently, “Guardians Vol. 3” is slated for a $120-130 million opening weekend. It would be the second-highest opening of 2023 behind only “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”, which opened to a $146 million three-day launch. That $146 million total is also what “Guardians Vol. 2” earned in its opening weekend six years ago.

The film won’t get much help from early reviews, which are generally positive but not overwhelmingly with a 78% Rotten Tomatoes score. At the same time, that score won’t hurt casual audience interest as “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s” decidedly lukewarm critical reception contributed to the series’ worst second-weekend drop. history of Marvel Studios.

So, like all post-“Endgame” Marvel films, the long-term fate of “Guardians Vol. 3” will come down to audience word of mouth, and that word of mouth will likely be shaped by how moviegoers react to the origin story of Rocket, the genetically engineered raccoon who happens to be the heart of both the Guardians and this film.

Rocket confronts his past in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” (Marvel)

‘Guardians’ trilogy director James Gunn, who will be in his new position as co-director of DC Studios full-time, has made no secret that his plans for the Guardians have always led to the team uncovering the truth about the past. sore. Rocket had kept it a secret from them for so long. “Vol. 3” delivers on that promise with multiple flashbacks to the traumatic creation of Rocket at the hands of the self-absorbed High Evolutionary.

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Majority of critics praise Gunn for using Rocket’s past as the basis for a film that leans even more into his cinematic style than previous films, mixing bizarre crude imagery with a heartfelt story of reunited family and healing from scars of abuse. But the film also drew criticism for pulling a little too hard on the nerves with unwavering displays of animal cruelty from the High Evolutionary and his minions.

These scenes may or may not be dealbreakers for a wide range of adult moviegoers. But it is likely that “Guardians Vol. 3” can be considered too intense for families with young children. “Super Mario Bros.” may lose premium-format support this coming weekend, but if “Guardians Vol. the parents.

That said, “Guardians Vol. 3” is still meant to be a fond farewell to a group of characters who have gone from Marvel Comics’ most obscure to successful icons. If the public buzz surrounding the film is about the emotional satisfaction of this farewell rather than the disturbing actions of its villain, then “Vol. 3” may still be able to thwart the MCU’s post-“Endgame” reputation of diminishing returns and to keep the public coming throughout the month of May. The opening weekend number will be important, but the CinemaScore rating and PostTrak results will be even more so.

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