Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is estimated to pull in anywhere from $140 million to $160 million at the domestic box office this weekend, to kick off the summer movie going season. Fans have been waiting with burning anticipation for nearly three years for the sequel to blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, which pulled in $93 million in its opening weekend in August 2014 on its way to a final domestic haul of $333 million. Combined with an additional $440 million in foreign ticket sales, the first Guardians ended its theatrical run with a $773 million cume worldwide.
One possible indicator that Vol. 2 could exceed estimates comes from reports of advance ticket sales from Fandango, since the film is already out-pacing advanced sales for Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. Vol. 2 certainly has a lot of momentum behind it: Following positive first reactions to the film and mostly favorable reviews from critics (currently the film stands a fresh rating of 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), Vol. 2 pulled in more than $101 internationally in 37 foreign territories last weekend.
According to Deadline, writer/director James Gunn's Vol. 2 – which is opening in 4,300 locations nationwide – will fall far short of besting the all-time recording opening for May, which came in 2012 with the $207.4 million opening of The Avengers. If the film manages to come in on the higher end off its estimated opening weekend take, will become the fifth largest May opening so far, following The Avengers, Avengers: Age Of Ultron ($191.3 million), Captain America: Civil War ($179.1 million), and Iron Man 3 ($174.1 million).
While Vol. 2 will easily eclipse The Fate of the Furious' $98.7 domestic opening (which was downgraded from initial estimates of more than $100 million), the MCU film will have a hard time passing Furious' global opening weekend record of more than $532 million (besting the previous record set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens). In all likelihood, the Disney/Marvel Studios film it will be challenging the mark set by its Mouse House cousin Beauty and the Beast, which opened with $175 million domestically (a March box office record), with an additional $175 million overseas.
Numbers aside, what will matter most to fans is whether Vol. 2 will at the very least match the level of entertainment of the first film, and whether the film's five post-credits scenes will build expectations for them for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which Gunn is already writing. The good thing is, Guardians fans won't have to wait nearly as long as the first time around to see the likes of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot again, since the irreverent team of antiheroes will next appear in Avengers: Infinity War a year from now.