Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Replaces The Super Mario Bros. Movie At The Top Of The Box Office, But The Numbers Aren't Stellar

Marvel Studios only releases blockbusters that hit number one in their opening weekend at the box office. Jon Favreau's Iron Man did it when the Marvel Cinematic Universe first launched back in 2008, and every subsequent feature in the franchise has followed suit. It's one of the most impressive runs presently going in Hollywood – but not every win can be judged equally. Some of them are significantly better than others, and this past weekend, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 established itself as a middle-of-the-pack title.

Check out the full Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis.


Weekend Box Office Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 May 5-7, 2023

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)
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1. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3*$114,000,000 $114,000,000 N/A4,450
2. The Super Mario Bros. Movie$18,600,000 $518,128,000 13,909
3. Evil Dead Rise$5,730,000 $54,101,000 23,036
4. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret$3,380,000 $12,647,414 33,343
5. Love Again*$2,425,000 $2,425,000 N/A2,703
6. John Wick: Chapter 4$2,359,000 $180,056,266 51,658
7. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves$1,515,000 $90,937,000 61,751
8. Air$1,396,169 $50,247,000 71,632
9. Guy Ritchie's The Covenant$1,222,129 $14,780,000 91,807
10. Sisu$1,083,000 $5,548,199 101,006

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Has The Weakest May Opening Weekend For A Marvel Movie Since 2011's Thor

Marvel Studios' impressive stature at the box office has been in part maintained by the ability to consistently kick off the summer season with a massive hit. Not every year since 2008 has seen an MCU title hit theaters in the first weekend of May, but it has happened 10 out of the last 15 years, and all but one has earned over nine figures in their debut. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the latest title to add to that legacy – but its box office haul is technically the weakest that has been produced in May since 2011 and the release of Kenneth Branagh's Thor.

The trilogy capper for the Guardians of the Galaxy series made an estimated $114 million over the last three days, and while that's significantly more than the $65.7 million that the introduction to Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder brought in over a decade ago, it's one of the weakest May premieres for the franchise. It's looking like it is going to rank third from the bottom in that particular arena, having just barely made more than what Iron Man made in 2008 ($102.1 million).

Despite having the added hype of concluding a trilogy, the movie is off to a slower start in the United States and Canada than James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (which made $146.5 million exactly six years ago). Of the 32 MCU blockbusters, it appears as though it will rank 17th in its opening weekend total.

It should also be noted that a post-2020 context doesn't make the release look a lot better either. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has had a better start domestically than the first three blockbusters that came out when theaters reopened in 2021 (Cate Shortland's Black Widow, Destin Daniel Cretton's Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, and Chloé Zhao's Eternals), and it's presently outpacing what Peyton Reed's Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania did earlier this year; but the film's opening weekend totals are way below all three of Marvel's 2022 titles (Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, Taika Waititi's Thor: Love And Thunder, and Ryan Coogler's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). 

Drax, Mantis, Star-Lord and Nebula in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

It's not a great time for Marvel Cinematic Universe films to be slowing down when it comes to making bank at the start of their theatrical run. As I've written about frequently in this box office column, the franchise has been dealing with major post-premiere weekend-to-weekend drops in the last couple years – the most severe occurring a few months ago when Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania dipped 70 percent in its second Friday-to-Sunday. Such a drop would be devastating to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as that would mean making just an estimated $34.2 million next weekend (for comparison, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 made nearly twice that figure in its second weekend).

The fortunate news is that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 should be able to avoid that precise fate thanks to buzz and word of mouth. Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania got a divisive response from critics when it reviews started going up online (resulting in a less-than-stellar Rotten Tomatoes score), and while fans had a more positive response to it, that wasn't enough to keep the blockbuster afloat at the box office. 

That is definitely not the case with James Gunn's new sci-fi comedy. While the film hasn't set a new high bar when it comes to critical response, it has gotten mostly enthusiastic reviews, and there is a full letter grade difference between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania on CinemaScore (an "A" vs. a "B").

The blockbuster is also obviously getting major support from overseas. Thus far, the Marvel release has made $168.1 million outside of the United States and Canada, which brings its worldwide total to $282.1 million. According to The Numbers, the film cost $250 million to make, meaning that it still has to make quite a lot more money before being seen as profitable – and that will obviously only further intensify attention on its performance next week.

Love Again Doesn't Do Much As Counterprogramming To Marvel, But The Super Mario Bros. Movie And Evil Dead Rise Hold Strong

When a new major blockbuster hits theaters, is common for competing studios to simultaneously put out a title that aims at different demographics than the big title, and this weekend that was the job of Jim Strouse's Love Again. The film failed to do much of anything in its debut, making an average of just $897 per location playing in over 2,700 theaters – but it is worth pointing out that young kids and adult horror fans have continued to show up and watch for Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic's The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Lee Cronin's Evil Dead Rise.

After spending the entire month of April in the number one spot, The Super Mario Bros. Movie got pushed down to second place, but it only made 54 percent less than the ticket sales it posted last week. The estimated $18.6 million it's made over the last three days has pushed its domestic total over $518.1 million – the hit video game movie having made $1.2 billion worldwide to date.

Evil Dead Rise most definitely isn't putting up numbers anywhere near what that all-ages release is doing, but it's still doing quite well. The blood-soaked terror fest is now on the verge of becoming the most successful title domestically in the Evil Dead series (Fede Álvarez's Evil Dead made $52.3 million in 2013), and the title is already the biggest in the franchise worldwide (it's the only title to have hit nine figures, having brought in $114.8 million globally to date).

Looking ahead, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to repeat at number one next weekend, but how well will it do, and could Bill Holderman's Book Club: The Next Chapter somehow play spoiler? Head back to CinemaBlend next Sunday for our latest weekend box office report, and check out our 2023 Movie Release Calendar to discover all of the features hitting theaters and streaming in the coming weeks and months. 

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.