A little less than three years after Guardians of the Galaxy become an out-of-this-worldwide breakout hit, the sequel begins its overseas rollout today. Debuting in the late-April sweet spot that has seen Disney release such Marvel tentpoles as Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3, Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 rockets into 37 material markets through Friday, repping 58% of its international box office footprint. Domestic and the rest of the world, including China but not yet Japan, catch up the following frame.
With writer-director James Gunn returning to the helm, GOTG2 is looking at a debut range of $85M-$100M, by most industry estimates. However, it would not be surprising to see it cross the century mark — and then some — in this first session. The original GOTG opened to $67.4M in 42 overseas markets back in August 2014. But that was in a different suite of markets when foreign exchange rates were very different. If it had opened in the same hubs where GOTG2 is debuting this weekend, then it would have grossed around $65M at current exchange rates.
Domestically, the broad estimate for the May 5 opening weekend is $130M-$150M (Anthony D’Alessandro will have more on that next week).
Other previous Marvel debuts in the same suite of offshore markets and at today’s rates include Iron Man 3’s $141.4M, Thor: The Dark World’s $85.4M and Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s $67.6M. Civil War is not a fantastic comp here given that it hulks out as essentially an Avengers movie, which puts it on a different scale. However, we’ll keep one eye on it over the next few days.
International tracking inherently lacks detail, and folks agree that makes predictions tough — particularly as a phenomenon like Guardians doesn’t come around that often. The first GOTG was based on an untested piece of IP and felt wholly fresh with its mix of playful, retro fun set to a nostalgic soundtrack that became a chart-topper. It ended up doing $440M overseas and $773M+ worldwide at a time when Chris Pratt was not a movie star, yet. It is the No. 5 movie worldwide in the Marvel Cinematic Universe whose brand awareness and goodwill show no signs of abating.
By accounts thus far, GOTG2 delivers on the promise of the first one. Anticipation is high and advance word is buzzy for the second outing of the likeable band of misfits. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 86% fresh — Marvel films average about 82% — and that resonates internationally.
Already, dating GOTG2 this week was a statement of confidence on Disney’s part. Each of the last five movies it’s released in this window have gone on to gross over $1B worldwide, save 2014’s Winter Solder. The original Guardians topped that pic by about $60M in the global cume; although it was slightly lower internationally.
The rollout patterns are different on the Guardians films with a wider first weekend on GOTG2 that includes all key European markets — and Europe over-indexed on the original. Korea, Russia and China open next frame in step with North America, and Japan bows a week later. Current box office champ The Fate Of The Furious is still wheeling around the globe, opening in Japan on Friday.
Taking advantage of local holidays, Disney lit the fuse on Guardians in Australia and Italy today (early indications are good). France notably opens tomorrow. Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan bounce in on Thursday; and Spain, the UK and Mexico launch Friday. The UK, France and other markets also have the May Day holiday Monday, setting what should be a bountiful table for domestic and the rest of international.
Produced by Marvel master Kevin Feige and set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, GOTG2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter’s (Pratt) true parentage. Oh, and in case you’ve been living in the shade of a giant tree, Groot’s now a baby.
Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Elizabeth Debicki also star in the big cast that’s joined by Kurt Russell as Peter’s father Ego and Sylvester Stallone as Ravager Stakar Ogord.
Pratt along with Saldana, Bautista and Gunn kicked off a world tour in Tokyo with a red-carpet fan event and are traveling to other key markets including the UK and Russia. In the UK, the retro ad campaign played as an April Fools gag with digital outdoor and social content touting a new portable cassette player as the most groundbreaking product of the future.
In Japan, Diesel’s Baby Groot is voiced by Kenichi Endo, well-known for his serious acting style and action roles. The team there created videos, à la The Actors Studio, that show Endo talking about his process for getting into character.
Pratt also took to Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, to directly confirm the local May 5 release date to his fans. That’s a way better deal than the first GOTG, or Interplanetary Unusual Attacking Team as Gunn said it was known at the time, which hit the Middle Kingdom on October 10, 2014 well after the summer debut elsewhere. It still charmed the PROC with $96.5M to lead all overseas plays.
Rounding out the Top 5 on GOTG were the UK ($47.4M), Russia ($38.5M), Germany ($24.6M) and Australia ($23.3M).