Box Office Report for the Week of May 7

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

The summer movie season is here, and it is starting…a bit lukewarm. Sure, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 made over $100 million, which is rare in our COVID-19 era. Still, it fell short of topping its predecessor, with a $114.0 million domestic opening and a $282.1 million international opening. I assume that this has reignited the “Is superhero/MCU fatigue a thing?” or “What’s going on with the MCU?” debate on Twitter, which is honestly very tiresome. I would even say that this number is a success for Marvel, which has been going through a rough patch lately. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania made over $100 million on opening weekend but fell short of drawing a bigger audience in its second weekend due to negative word-of-mouth amongst fans and critics. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, received much better reviews. It even beat its $110 million projections by a stronger uptick in tickets on Saturday and Sunday, with a more positive word of mouth amongst audiences who have seen it.

So, is MCU/superhero fatigue a thing? I would like to put an end to this tiresome debate by saying this: Yes and no. Bad superhero movie fatigue is definitely a thing. Well, bad movie fatigue, in general, is a thing. Case in point: Sony Pictures’ Love Again bombed terribly this weekend, grossing a lousy $2.1 million tally, even with pop music icon Céline Dion starring in her first film role. I’m curious to know the box office score in Quebec, where multiple media channels talked about this film for a long time. However, whoever at Sony thought it was a good decision to bump the film’s release to May 5 instead of May 12, when Guardians of the frickin’ Galaxy is getting released, likely regrets it. Funny enough, even with bad reviews, it likely would’ve made more next week than this weekend.

After a year in which audiences were transported with films like RRR, The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick, and Avatar: The Way of Water, going back to the MCU with Ant-Man 3 and the DC Universe with Shazam! Fury of the Gods likely made people realize they had been eating Happy Meals the entire time. It’s satisfying if you’re driving in the middle of nowhere and can’t find anything else to eat, but that’s about that. Audiences aren’t duped anymore to what a blockbuster can be, which now means that Marvel Studios has to work very hard to make films that are aesthetically exciting and thematically resonant for audiences. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 is a step in the right direction for the studio. It shows them exactly what they need to do to succeed in the long run: write compelling characters, reinvent what a superhero antagonist is, and craft visually exciting action sequences.

Studios have been making superhero movies for a long time and will continue to do so for decades. James Gunn‘s DCU certainly sounds quite exciting, and it will hopefully be a true rival for Marvel once it is set in motion with Creature Commandos in 2024, followed by Waller and Superman: Legacy in 2025. Whether you like it or not, they’re money-makers and still generate tons of revenue for cinemas (and now streaming services). However, the “superhero monopoly” may be finally over. During the uncertain 2021 and 2022 COVID years, superhero movies were HIGHLY successful at the box office. They brought people in droves to see films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Batman, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Now that these years have passed and studios feel more confident in releasing more original films, the monopoly is dwindling down…and that’s a good thing.

Why is that a good thing? Simple. It forces studios to not rely on superhero films to drive audiences to cinemas. Creed III, John Wick: Chapter 4, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie are great examples of non-superhero films thriving at the box office and reminding audiences that there is more to blockbuster cinema than comic book films. It also forces superhero studios to step up their game when it comes to crafting a good comic book movie. They cannot do the “sky portal” finale anymore. It has been bludgeoned to death in so many movies. They must find a way to keep the storytelling interesting, the characters investing, and the slight setups to future installments enticing enough for audiences to want to return. If your film is a two-hour set up for five different movies and television series, forget it. I’ve never been so disinterested in a Marvel movie by watching Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, where you can feel the filmmakers going, “You gotta see X and X and X and X, then tune in on Disney+ for —” instead of telling a compelling story in the present moment, which is what Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 does. It’s not concerned about setting up a larger future, making it a very good movie in that regard.

In short, bad superhero movie fatigue is a thing. Superhero movies will continue to get made, but they might not hold theaters hostage anymore, which is good for blockbusters in general. This will hopefully force Hollywood studios to diversify their portfolio and, most importantly, keep successful films playing in theatres for a long time. That’s the only way for theatres to keep their lights on.

Here is the full list of the top ten films of the week:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (Disney): $114.0M – 4,450 theatres
  2. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Universal): $18.6M (-54.5%) – 3,909 theatres
  3. Evil Dead Rise (Warner Bros.): $5.7M (-52.8%) – 3,036 theatres
  4. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (Lionsgate): $3.3M (-49.8%) – 3,343 theatres
  5. John Wick: Chapter 4 (Lionsgate): $2.3M (-51.5%) – 2,481 theatres
  6. Love Again (Sony): $2.1M – 2,703 theatres
  7. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Paramount): $1.5M (-63.7%) – 1,751 theatres
  8. Air (Amazon Studios): $1.3M (-65.1%) – 1,632 theatres
  9. The Covenant (MGM): $1.2M (-66%) – 1,807 theatres
  10. Sisu (Lionsgate): $1.0M (-67.5%) – 1,006 theatres

Source: Box Office Mojo


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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