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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ blasts off globally

May 09,2017
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“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” about the intergalactic band of misfits, blasted off in both Korea and North America, dominating weekend box offices. [THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY KOREA]
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” rocketed to become the best-selling movie over the weekend in both Korea and North America.

Marvel’s latest superhero movie blasted off with 7.8 billion won ($7 million) in Korea, selling more than 883,000 tickets at 1,218 screens over the long weekend. Friday was Children’s Day, a national holiday. The movie accounted for 29 percent of the weekend’s total ticket sales.

“Guardians” ascended to an estimated $145 million debut in North America, kicking off Hollywood’s summer movie season with something the movie business has been craving: a sequel more successful than the original.

Director James Gunn’s second “Guardians” film opened 54 percent higher than the 2014 runaway hit, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That release, which introduced the intergalactic band of misfits played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, debuted with $94 million in its first weekend.

Once a little-known, oddball property in Marvel’s vault, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” has grown into one of the comic-book factory’s biggest brands.

Walt Disney Co. validated the rise of “Guardians,” too, by moving it from August to the first weekend in May. Marvel has used the same weekend to effectively launch the summer season for the last decade.

The opening for “Guardians Vol. 2,” made for about $200 million, is the second largest of the year, following Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” ($174.8 million). But it also turns back the tide of underperforming sequels, a developing scourge to Hollywood. Last summer saw a litany of sequels that failed to live up to earlier installments.

“We spent a lot of time looking at sequels and the idea of sequel-itis,” said David Hollis, distribution chief for Disney. “Really, poor quality films have been the thing that has, more than anything, been rejected by consumers over time. The ambition here was to make something that was unbelievably fresh and exciting. As long as we can continue to deliver high-quality storytelling, high-quality world-creation, we’ll be in great shape.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” scored on that front, landing an A CinemaScore from audiences and an 82 percent “fresh” rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. In two weeks of international release, the film has also made $269 million overseas. A third “Guardians” is already planned, as are crossovers with Marvel’s Avengers. But whether “Guardians” can turn the tide for summer sequels will be a much-followed story line as the season progresses. The bottom line of just about every studio depends on it.

On the horizon are big-budget sequels like “Alien: Covenant,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Cars 3,” “Transformers: The Last Knight,” “Despicable Me 3” and “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

“I think this is going to be one of the biggest summers ever. Obviously last summer was a bummer. We had numerous sequels - well over a dozen - that didn’t live up to the promise of their immediate predecessor,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “Summer 2017 gets us back on track. There’s a lot out there.”

At second in the Korean box office was local crime comedy “The Sheriff in Town.” Starring Lee Sung-min and Cho Jin-woong, it is another male-centered movie produced by the production team behind legendary crime movies like “Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time” (2012) and “New World” (2013). The movie sold 837,000 admissions over the first weekend, which is a moderate performance, considering its direct competition against “Guardians,” which has solid fan base.

DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby” followed with 764,000 tickets, taking up 22.4 percent of the entire weekend’s ticket sales. The animated film revolves around a baby who wears a suit, talks like an adult and conducts meetings with other babies in the neighborhood. The story kicks off with sibling rivalry, and later becomes a tribute to family and brotherhood.

In North America, “The Fate of the Furious” came in at No. 2 with $8.5 million in its fourth weekend. The Universal release, the eighth installment in the franchise, has grossed $1.6 billion worldwide.

The only film selling tickets globally at even roughly the same pace as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was the South Indian sequel “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.” The Tollywood film (in the Telugu language) has in two weeks grossed $147.3 million globally, according to comScore. That sets a new mark for an Indian film at the worldwide box office.

BY JIN MIN-JI, AP [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]