Of course, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (Disney) will dominate the box office this weekend. Just like it’s a given that “Avengers: Infinity War” will be Number One on May 4, 2018 and another “Avengers” film will top the charts on May 3, 2019, and so on to infinity and beyond.
This will be the 11th consecutive year that a Marvel title will spark the start of the four-month summer movie season; six were released by Disney. Marvel’s top four opening weekends have all arrived on this date, led by the first two “Avengers” titles.
The date is critical to why the “Guardians” sequel, expected to open to at least a $150 million, will likely open 50 per cent or more above the first one in August 2014 (adjusted to just over $100 million). That was by far the biggest hit of summer 2014 (actual gross $333 million, adjusted $364 million).
“Captain America: Civil War” last year opened to $179 million, dominating 77 per cent of the Top Ten total. It shared the bounty with “The Jungle Book” in its fourth week. Three Disney films including “Zootopia” managed to corral about 90 per cent of the Top Ten. Though most advance estimates place “Guardians Vol. 2” at closer to $150 million, it could beat “Civil War.”
Aiding the cause: the last six months have seen only one Marvel entry, Fox’s “Logan” ($225 million domestic), and most holdovers are losing steam. While “Jungle Book” grossed $25 million last year, only “Fate” this week has a shot at grossing over $10 million (barely).
In short “Guardians” has great want-to-see and no competition.
The second weekend numbers for breakout niche performers “How to Be a Latin Lover” (Lionsgate) and “Baahubali 2” (Great India) are harder to predict. Eugenio Derbez’s previous success “Instructions Not Included” doubled its prints its second post-Labor Day weekend, and actually went up slightly. Most Indian films tend to drop 60 per cent or more their second go-rounds. Still, both are already substantial successes and show the growth in appeal to specific groups of ticket buyers at a time when most other ones are declining.
Recent weeks have mostly lagged behind last year’s. Despite the likely heft from “Guardians,” the overall weakness and lack of new films from the rest of the Top Ten will require it to approach $200 million for the weekend in order to equal what “Civil War” and the rest totaled a year ago.
Watch for some recent films that have played well with older audiences to hold well, including “Gifted” (Fox Searchlight), “Going in Style” (Warner Bros.) and “The Lost City of Z” (Bleecker Street).
Among the several limited releases trying to counter-program Marvel in initial dates are two that have received considerable attention in the lead-up to their release.
“Risk” (Neon) is the latest documentary from Laura Poitras, whose “Citizenfour” on Edward Snowden won an Oscar two years ago. This time she focuses on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with updates so recent after its Cannes 2016 premiere that revised editing required postponing advance press screenings.
Weinstein’s “3 Generations” has received attention in its successful attempt at getting the MPAA to grant it a PG-13 rating. This Toronto 2015 premiered film features Elle Fanning as a teenage girl embarking on gender change, with Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon costarring.
“The Lovers” (A24) features Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as a long married couple on the verge of divorce who reignite their romantic spark. The comedy recently premiered at Tribeca.
“The Dinner” (The Orchard) reunites director Oren Moverman and Richard Gere after “Time Out of Mind.” Gere, also in the expanding “Norman – The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” stars as a politician who meets with his brother and their spouses to deal with scandal and lawbreaking by their 16-year-old sons.
IFC opens “Chuck,” from Quebecois director Philippe Falardeau (“The Good Lie,” “Monsieur Lazhar”), with Liev Schreiber playing boxer Chuck Wapner.
French director Stephane Brize’s follows last year’s “Measure of a Man” with “A Woman’s Life,” also released by Kino Lorber.