Some have argued that superhero fatigue will one day scuttle the entire comic book movie genre, but that day definitely hasn't arrived yet. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the next significant Marvel release on the horizon, and it looks like another home run for the studio. The film hasn't even opened in North America yet, but it has already made an absolute killing at the international box office. This prioritization of foreign markets over domestic markets has become a growing trend for Marvel Studios and Disney in recent years, and it seems to indicate a desire to cater to a more global audience instead of primarily focusing on American audiences.
According to a new Deadline report, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opened to an astounding $101.2 million at the international box office over the weekend. Boosted by a European bank holiday, the film has dominated the No. 1 spot in most of its 37 foreign markets and generally outperformed the original Guardians of the Galaxy by virtually every measure. This isn't just a one-off for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, either. As the international box office continues to become an increasingly important factor in the success of Marvel blockbusters, Marvel has shifted its releases to actually give its films to foreign markets before opening in North America. Although it wouldn't have previously seemed possible, the international box office has slowly but surely become a viable market for huge success -- probably even more viable than the domestic market.
This doesn't necessarily mean that the American box office no longer matters to a blockbuster studio like Marvel. The money earned in domestic markets still plays a significant role in the success or failure of a film like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but now it seems increasingly evident that the folks at Disney are taking a "big picture" approach to the releases of their biggest tentpole franchises. It's also clear that this method has caught on, as studios like Warner Bros. have similarly tinkered with the idea of simultaneous releases in domestic and international markets; that's how they handled Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
By contrast, Marvel Studios seems to have quite a bit of faith in giving their films to international audiences first. In doing this, Marvel and Disney can earn the GDP of a small nation quickly, and let strong word of mouth (not to mention rave reviews) carry a movie like Guardians to its domestic opening.
The last few years have seen the global box office rise to prominence for many major film franchises -- not just the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Other franchises such as the Fast and Furious film series have similarly shifted to become more global in scope, and the payoff from zeroing in on foreign markets has seen quantifiable, positive results. Even franchises like The Terminator (whose latest installment faltered at the domestic box office) have utilized the burgeoning international markets to make up lost money and ultimately turn a profit. The blockbuster landscape is clearly changing, and Marvel is leading the charge to a large and eager segment of the global audience.
As for those of us still waiting in America? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will debut in theaters later this week on May 5. Check out everything that we currently know about the long-awaited sequel to get yourself up to speed on the latest adventures of Marvel's favorite misfits.