NOTE: In lieu of a traditional box office prediction post, we are analyzing how much higher Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will go than its predecessor.

This summer, Marvel’s Phase 3 continues with the release of James Gunn’s hotly-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Back in 2014, the original Guardians film was seen by many as a risk, but it ended up being one of the more creative and beloved installments in the MCU. Thanks to its irreverent sense of humor and heartfelt characters, the film was a critical and box office success, raking in $333.1 million domestically. That is the fifth-highest in the franchise’s history, and the most for a movie that does not star Iron Man. After sneaking under the radar a few years ago, expectations are quite high for the sequel.

While critically the followup doesn’t feel as fresh as what came before (read our review), commercially Guardians 2 is poised to be the latest Marvel hit. Already, it’s grossed well over $100 million internationally and it should have one of the biggest Stateside openings of the year. Disney has placed it in their traditional early May window to kick off the summer movie season, a slot that has yielded excellent results before. The last two of their movies to come out in this time – Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War – ended their respective runs with more than $400 million in the U.S. Is something similar in store for Vol. 2? In a special edition of the Box Office Prediction, we’re taking a look at how much more Guardians 2 could make when compared to its predecessor.

Guardians of the Galaxy opened to a then August record of $94.3 million, a figure the sequel should easily eclipse. The low end of the projections have it pegged for $140 million, and the high point is in the neighborhood of $160 million. Either of those numbers seems realistic for Vol. 2 to reach, given a number of factors. For starters, it’s been a few weeks since The Fate of the Furious debuted, and that film has done much better overseas than in North America. The latest adventure for Dominic Toretto’s family has crossed the $1 billion mark, but fell 61.1 percent in its second domestic weekend, indicating weaker legs than initially anticipated. General audiences are probably hungry for some tentpole fare, and Guardians fits the bill – especially since it was better received than Fate. Also, the Marvel brand is as strong as ever, with the Guardians characters becoming some of their most popular and marketable.

Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 copy Box Office Prediction: How High Will Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Go?

Coupled with Fate‘s diminishing returns is the fact that Vol. 2 faces virtually no competition in its opening frame. Other studios smartly stayed away from this weekend, giving Star-Lord and crew free reign of the multiplex. Those looking to see a new movie over the next few days don’t have much to choose from, meaning there will be a sizable demand for Guardians 2. Just from Thursday preview screenings, it earned a staggering $17 million, which isn’t a new all-time mark for Marvel, but still an impressive achievement. Additionally, Vol. 2 is outpacing Age of Ultron in terms of advanced ticket sales, and the second Avengers film debuted to the tune of $191.2 million back in 2015. Even if Guardians can’t quite get there, it should still be in the same ballpark. There’s a lot working in its favor.

As for cons, it can be said that the word-of-mouth is not as enthusiastic as it was for the first Guardians, with some pundits feeling it treads familiar ground without bringing much new to the table. That sort of response might prevent some casual viewers from rushing out to the theater to see it, but Vol. 2 has nevertheless still been praised as another fun Marvel ride. The positive reviews definitely outweigh the negative ones, with some calling it one of the better MCU installments to date. Over the course of nearly a decade, Marvel has been churning out well-received blockbusters, and Vol. 2 is no exception. A slightly lower Rotten Tomatoes score – one that’s still Certified Fresh – is going to have minimal impact.

In short, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is definitely going to be one of the biggest hits of the summer and possible all-time if the chips fall into place. The MCU’s prolonged hot streak is showing no signs of slowing down, and people remain excited to see what they have in store next. For our prediction, we will say the film will make $155 million in its first three days, given that it is important to consider that it hasn’t score unanimous raves and has some naysayers. Overall, Vol. 2 is still in very good shape, and that haul would be nothing to sneeze at should it come to pass.

Let us know how much you’ll think Guardians 2 will make in the comments!

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