What does Guardians of the Galaxy 3 STRONG 2nd Week mean for MCU, if anything?

by 05.22.2023

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s Strong Second Weekend Proves Superhero Fatigue Was Never the Issue. How did Marvel go from its worst second-week hold to its third-best? It’s all in the quality.

Unfortunately for Marvel, steep box office drops in its movies’ second week have become a trend.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dropped a concerning 63.34% in the week after its opening, according to data provided to IGN by Comscore (see chart below). Thor: Love and Thunder? An even worse 67.65%. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? A similarly concerning 67.05%. It all culminated in Marvel’s steepest second-week drop in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, whose box office gross plummeted a staggering 69.88%. All signs pointed to trouble for the future of the typically thoroughly reliable MCU, and worries over so-called “superhero fatigue” (aided by Shazam: Fury of the Gods’ and Black Adam’s lackluster box office returns on the DC side) reared their heads.

But leave it to James Gunn to buck the distressing trend. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 not only boasted a second-week box office hold that puts the rest of Marvel’s recent movies to shame, but one that marked a return to the MCU’s golden days: a stunning (for a superhero movie, anyway) 47.63% hold.

So we’re not just drowning you in numbers, let’s put that in perspective. The last time a Marvel movie held like that in its second week was the first Black Panther all the way back in 2018, which stayed steady from an already stellar $202 million opening weekend to drop only 44.72%. After Black Panther, the only movie with a better second-week hold than Guardians 3 is the first Thor more than a decade ago, dipping down only 47.20%.

“But if the movie works, that really transcends any of those preconceived notions or negative biases.

That means Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, at least in its second week, has the third-best hold of any MCU movie ever. And if that’s not enough: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has already surpassed Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s entire theatrical gross in just two weeks.

So how did that happen? To put it in the most ridiculously simple of terms, it was good. Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst for Comscore, acknowledges that “there’s been this overall view that the bloom is off the roses a bit with the Marvel brand. But I guess this just proves it’s not about the brand.”

“It’s about the movie, and Guardians delivers,” he tells IGN. “Movies stand on their own. People may have particular biases against a brand or a star or a genre. But if the movie works, that really transcends any of those preconceived notions or negative biases.”

In short, Dergarabedian agrees it’s not superhero fatigue: “It’s bad movie fatigue.”

The Power of Word-of-Mouth
By all accounts, Guardians Vol. 3 “works” more than other recent MCU movies, at least going by fan and critical sentiment. It stands at a solid 82% “fresh” critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an even better 94% audience rating.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s Rotten Tomatoes score, meanwhile, presents a stark contrast, with a 47% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and a much better – but still lower than Guardians – 83% audience score.

Going by another sentiment aggregator, Guardians Vol. 3 has an A grade on Cinemascore, which polls fans hitting the theaters on opening weekend. Quantumania has a B – which might not sound so bad until you consider that it’s tied with Eternals for the lowest MCU Cinemascore.

Basically: audiences aren’t dumb, and they want to spend their hard-earned cash on movies they know are of quality.

“We’ve seen this though with a lot of movies recently, movies that were well-reviewed but also mostly, and more importantly, beloved by audiences, had high audience scores, like John Wick: Chapter 4, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Super Mario Bros. Movie, and others that have held in there,” Dergarabedian says. “It’s been a trend that movies that are ‘good,’ or received as being quality films, or crowd pleasers, the reflection of that happens with the mass, in the numbers.”

In addition to the word-of-mouth, Dergarabedian says there’s a “confluence of factors” that lead to a steady second- (and beyond) week hold. On the Guardians front, for one, there’s the Gunn of it all, who stands as the only writer/director to keep the reins of an entire trilogy in the MCU. Given that he’s now headed off to head the DCU and he’s vocal in interacting with fans on Twitter, there’s a certain amount of trust he’s built with the audience.

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