‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3’: James Gunn’s Last Ride At Marvel, At No. 9, Is Disney’s Only Pic In Deadline’s 2023 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament

Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament is back. While studios during Covid wildly embraced the theatrical day-and-date model when cinemas were closed, they soon realized there’s nothing more profitable than a theatrical release and the downstreams that come with it. If anything, theatrical is the advertisement for a movie’s longevity in subsequent home entertainment windows. Entering the conversation in 2023 were the streamers, such as Apple, who have also realized the necessity of theatrical to eventize their movies. The financial data pulled together here for Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament is culled by seasoned and trusted sources.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Disney/Marvel Studios

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Hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to the success of Disney/Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The movie repped James Gunn’s final ride with Marvel Studios as the filmmaker took on the co-chief role at Warner Bros’ DC Studios; in fact, he did press for this film while running DC last summer. At the time, many feared superhero fatigue as GOTG 3 opened domestically to $118.4 million, which for a film kickstarting the summer during the first weekend of May was one of the lower totals — just north of Sony’s first Spider-Man movie in 2002 (the first movie ever to open north of $100M, and the film that started the superhero millennium blaze). Also heavy on the mind was that the domestic start was 37% off from the opening of 2022’s summer starter Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187.4M). Global opening for GOTG 3 was $282M.

Yet while Marvel Studios went into freefall with The Marvels in November, repping the lowest opening ever in the Disney MCU at $46.1M (and fueling Disney CEO Bob Iger’s new mission to make less movies, and of better quality), what GOTG 3 did prove was that Marvel fanboys, when they know something is excellent, come out. The threequel and conclusion to the GOTG franchise did a 3x multiple at the domestic box office, ending its run at $359M, which was a better leg-out than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2.7x multiple), Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2.2x) and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2x). The threequel also saw the best second-weekend hold for an MCU movie during the pandemic at -48%. In the end, the movie was the highest-grossing film for Disney in 2023 at $845.6M worldwide, and the only title from the studio to crack the top 10 in Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament this year. Last year, Disney had four titles in the top 10, three of them Marvel movies: Avatar: The Way of Water ($531.7M net profit), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($284M net profit), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ($259M net profit) and Thor: Love and Thunder ($103M net profit).



While love for the franchise fueled ticket sales to Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (in Screen Engine/Comscore exits, 58% of moviegoers during opening weekend said the main reason they saw the threequel was because it was part of a franchise they cherish), the Disney marketing machine, here with a global P&A of $160M, made this movie a summer destination. That includes a Super Bowl pregame spot. In regards to the social media push, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was boosted by the power of its cast (including Vin Diesel, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista and Karen Gillan) that counted 350M followers, which took the entire social media universe for the movie to 704M — higher than the online reach of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (669M). Promotional partners offset marketing costs at $90M. The $180M figure includes the amount for which Disney sells the film to itself, Disney+ being the pay-one window for the studio’s movies. Evidence that the days of Bob Chapek’s day-and-date shenanigans are behind it, and that the studio is a practitioner of the theatrical windows, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrived on Disney+ 90 days after opening in cinemas.

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