Yes, every time a movie opens over $100 million is a positive event for theaters. And yes, for Marvel and Disney, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is an improvement over the lower initial take for “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” ($106 million in the first weekend of last February). Correct too, it’s the second best opening of the year.

But the elephant in the room exists. Since 2013, Disney opened its best summer Marvel season on this date (and also, the last weekend of April twice): Without even having to adjust for inflation, the new “Guardians”, with $114 million for its US/Canada gross, ranks dead last – nine out of nine. The drop from last year’s entry (“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”) is steep – down $73 million from this one. And “Strange” was a sequel to a lesser series release than “Guardians.” This should make you think: “Vol. 2,” that same weekend in 2017, grossed at current ticket prices around $170 million.

Again, this “Guardians” is an asset to venues for sure. And a film barely defines the trajectory of summer. But this is the long-awaited first release since “Universal’s Super Mario Bros. Movie” (“SMB”) debuted a month ago, and the first test of hope is that its extraordinary response might suggest higher potential for more movies to come. In this case, no.

Initial numbers, however, suggest that ‘Guardians’ will hold up better than ‘Quantumania’. Thursday and Friday’s previews were nearly on par with Marvel’s previous release. But Saturday’s crude was up 17%. This reflects its A Cinemascore (historically typical of Marvel titles), rather than the modest B in February.

“Quantumania” ended up at just $214 million domestically, $475 million worldwide. This is the lowest for Marvel titles. So far, these “gatekeepers” already add up to $282 million when adding the initial foreign totals. American-Canadian paces can reach $300 million.

Sounds decent, expect two things. That would again make it the lowest of all late April/early May Marvel releases, even without adjusting for inflation. And the announced budget could be as high as $250 million before likely marketing spend of $100 million or more. In the past, these films generally recouped their theatrical expenses before benefiting from the additional revenue generated after the theatrical release. This one is going to need it.

With all the attention in the comic book universe about how DC needs to be revamped, the reality is that Marvel, while still performing better by default on most movies, is falling. This makes “SMB”‘s success all the more critical, not just as a movie, but also suggests that as interest in Marvel blockbusters wanes, it could transfer to newer entries. We’ll see in the next few weeks.

Sam Heughan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas in
“Love Again”Sony Pictures

The ‘Guardians’ took in more than 70% of the weekend’s total of $157 million. Even if it heavily biased (60%) men, the impact at all levels was significant. No vestige fell below 50%. Sony tried to counter with the rom-com “Love Again” with the intriguing cast of “Outlander” star Sam Heughan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Celine Dion playing a fictionalized version of herself. For their efforts (and luckily only a production cost of $9 million), they grossed less than $2.5 million from 2,703 theaters. This is the second week in a row for a Sony title (“Big George Foreman” previously) to debut around this level.

“SMB” fell 54% to a total of $18.6 million after four weekends of over $40 million. It’s $518 million, now with a more likely final gross of $600 million US/Canada. Always spectacular and clearly still the movie to beat as best of 2023.

Despite dropping to just over $5 million in its third weekend, ‘Evil Dead Rise’ (Warner Bros. Discovery) hit $54 million, a decent result for a film with a budget. less than $20 million. However, any hope that “Are you there, God?” It’s me, Margaret” (Lionsgate) could recover from a weak start was wiped out by a 50 per cent drop. Judy Blume’s adaptation, with some of the best reviews of the year, will struggle to reach $20 million.

After a huge April, May kicks off with a weekend that hasn’t been the same in 2022 ($222 million in total). The year-to-date drop, comparing all of 2023 to date to this point in 2022, is still 32% higher. This pace, if maintained, would bring 2023 to just under $9.8 billion for the United States and Canada. box office in its entirety. For the first time since the opening of “SMB”, the four-week rolling total from 2019 fell to a lower level (about 88% of the number in 2019, a drop of 12%) than this year -there.

Chile '76
“Chile ’76”Courtesy of Kino Lorber

Specialized mostly stays dark. Among the novelties, “Chile ’76” (Kino Lorber) earned the highest score, with $16,000 at two theaters. “The Eight Mountains” (Sideshow/Janus) added two venues to four, but fell short of its initial response with an average per venue of $4,000. “RMN” (IFC) went pretty far in its second week, but only grossed $11,000 in 41 theaters. “Beau Is Afraid” (A24) lost three-quarters of its theaters with a gross of $334,000 from 510 theaters. At $6.7 million, Ari Aster’s latest and by far most expensive genre entry is expected to reach $8 million at best, a steep drop from past performance.

Top 10

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 65; East. budget: $250 million

$114,000,000 in 4,450 theaters; PTA (average per venue): $25,618,000; Cumulative: $114,000,000

2. The movie Super Mario Bros. (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #1

$18,600,000 (-54%) in 3,909 (-295) theaters; APT: $4,758; Cumulative: $518,128,000

3. Evil Dead Rise (Warner Bros. Discovery) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$5,730,000 (-53%) in 3,036 (-381) theaters; APT: $1,887; Cumulative: $54,101,000

4. Are you there God? it’s me margarita (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$3,338,000 (-50%) in 3,343 theaters (unchanged); APE: $1,011; Cumulative: $12,647,400

5. Love Again (Sony) NEW; Metacritic: 34; East. budget: $9 million

$2,425,000 at 2,703 theaters; APE: $897; Cumulative: $2,425,000

6. John Wick: Chapter 4 (Lionsgate) week 7; Last weekend #5

$2,359,000 (-52%) at 1,658 (-823) theaters; APE: $1,423; Cumulative: $180,056,000

7. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Priority) Week 6; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,515,000 (-64%) at 1,751 (-958) theaters; APT: $865; Cumulative: $90,937,000

8. Aerial (MGM) Week 5; Last weekend #7

$1,396,000 (-65%) at 1,632 (-770) theaters; APT: $855; Cumulative: $50,247,000

9. The Pact (MGM) Week 3; Last weekend #9

$1,222,000 (-66%) at 1,807 (-824) theaters; APT: $676; Cumulative: $14,780,000

10. Sisu (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #10

$1,083,000 (67%) in 1,006 theaters (unchanged); APT: $1,077; Cumulative: $5,548,000

Other specialized titles

Movies (limited, limited release expansions, as well as awards-focused releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those open that week; after the first two weeks, only films with gross sales over $5,000 are listed.

NEW – Metacritic: ; Festivals include:

$ in cinemas; APE: $

Chile ’76 (Kino Lorber) NEW – Metacrit: 77; Festivals include: Cannes 2022, New Directors/New Films 2023

$16,038 theatrically; APT: $8,019

The Fusion Goes On Forever: The Art and Times of David Hammons NEW – Festivals include: Chicago 2022

$6,250 in 1 theatre; APT: $6,250

The Eight Mountains (Sideshow/Janus) Week 2

$16,022 in 4 (+2) theaters; APT: $4,006; Cumulative: $57,358

Polite society (Tune in) Week 2

$215,000 in 702 (-225) theaters; APE: $; Cumulative: $1,333,000

32 sounds (Abramorama) Week 2 1

$4,012 in 1 cinema; APT: $4,012; Cumulative: $27,909

NMR (IFC) Week 2

$11,000 in 41 (+39) cinemas; APT: $268; Cumulative: $22,101

Knight (Spotlight) Week 3

$82,000 in 155 (-1,126) theaters; Cumulative: $3,168,000

Somewhere in Queens (Road Attractions) Week 3

$74,430 in 122 (-377) theaters; Cumulative: $1,527,000

Other people’s children (Music Box) Week 3

$5,323 in 8 (+1) theaters; Cumulative: $48,145

Carmen (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$9,583 in 19 (+8) in cinemas; Cumulative: $40,045

handsome is scared (A24) Week 4

$333,543 in 510 (-1,615) theaters; Cumulative: $6,743,000

susume (Sony) Week 4

$205,000 in 116 (-324) theaters; Cumulative: $10,249,000

Wildlife (Picturehouse) Week 4 13

$37,067 in 30 (+17) theaters; Cumulative: $231,444

To show up (A24) Week 5

$44,853 in 102 (-13) theaters; Cumulative: $642,105

joyland (Oscilloscope) Week 5

$30,241 in 34 (+4) theaters; Cumulative: $185,430