Guardians of the Galaxy (film)

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ blasts off with $145M opening

FILE - This image released by Disney-Marvel shows Zoe Saldana, from left, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, in a scene from,
FILE – This image released by Disney-Marvel shows Zoe Saldana, from left, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, in a scene from, “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has rocketed to a $17 million opening night, beating out early showings of the first film. Disney reported the sales estimate for Thursday night, May 4, 2017, preview screenings on Friday morning. The sequels Thursday night earnings are the biggest of the year so far. (Disney-Marvel via AP)

NEW YORK – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” rocketed 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” have grown into one of the comic-book factory’s biggest brands.

The Walt Disney Co. validated the rise of “Guardians,” too, by moving it from August (when the original opened) 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…

‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’: Sean Gunn on Film’s Powerful Final Moments

Director James Gunn asked his brother to watch 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' for inspiration for that emotional scream.
Courtesy of Chuck Zlotnick

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of Marvel’s funniest movies yet, so it was quite unexpected that it’s also its most poignant.

The final moments of the film saw Yondu (Michael Rooker) sacrifice his life so that his surrogate son Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) could live, with the blue Ravager giving Star-Lord the only functional space suit.

The complicated nature of the scene was only fully realized during Yondu’s funeral, in which the Ravagers (who previously had excommunicated him) returned to give the blue alien his proper honors. When Yondu’s friend Kraglin (Sean Gunn) realizes Yondu has posthumously been let back into the fold, he delivers a scream that is both joyful and heartbreaking in one of the film’s most arresting moments.

Gunn was all over the film in more ways than one, performing motion reference-capture as the film’s on-set Rocket. And in a conversation with Heat Vision, Gunn reveals the classic film his brother (writer-director James Gunn) asked him to draw upon for that emotional Kraglin scream, the somber mood the cast and crew felt during Yondu’s funeral, and his future with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My favorite shot in the entire movie is Kraglin’s scream during the funeral. What did you and James talk about drawing from for that moment?

I hope I’m not betraying a trade secret here, but my brother mentioned the moment at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, with Christopher Lloyd’s character. I knew the moment already, and I watched it again, just in case. At the end of the movie when Chief [Will Sampson] throws the thing out and he’s breaking out, there’s this beautiful shot — it’s only a few seconds — of Christopher Lloyd just cheering like crazy. And so I watch that the night before. For me, an emotional scene like that, I love playing it, but I’m just really careful about taking my time to feel mentally prepared when we start to shoot. I just try to make sure I’m right in the pocket of what my character is feeling at that time and I agree with you. I love that moment. It was my favorite moment of my own, I would say, in the whole film.

The last shot of the movie, before the credits, is Rocket’s face. So you are all over that ending. Do you remember much about…

How ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ Beat Marvel’s Sequel Curse

'Age of Ultron' and 'Iron Man 2' couldn't top their predecessors, but a mix of emotion, character growth and personal stakes helped James Gunn's film rise above.
Courtesy of Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had the nearly impossible task of living up to the expectations of the surprise 2014 hit — and in some rather surprising ways, it succeeded.

Marvel Studios has a mixed track record with second installments (there are few fans who would rank Iron Man 2 and Avengers: Age of Ultron above their immediate predecessors, but Captain America: Winter Soldier is largely considered to top the first Cap movie). And while the reviews were positive, even many praising the film argued James Gunn’s followup didn’t totally recapture the magic of the first installment. I humbly submit that those claims are wrong, and here’s why:

Vol. 2 is more emotional than its predecessor.

Movies like The Avengers feature makeshift families, but never has a Marvel movie tackled the theme of family so poignantly. Unlike another Vin Diesel-starring blockbuster, the way writer-director James Gunn employs family throughout Guardians 2 makes it more than a buzzword. The main plot shows Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finally meeting his father, the man-shaped planet known as Ego (Kurt Russell), while Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her vengeful sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) attempt to smooth over their rough history, and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) bonds with the Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker).

From the outset of the first Guardians, the mystery of Peter’s heritage has hovered over his arc; when he first meets Ego, he’s encouraged by Gamora to get to know the old man better. But Gunn’s script, aided by the performances from Pratt, Russell, and Rooker, gets at the larger question: does being Peter’s blood relative really make Ego his dad emotionally, or is that Yondu, his old overseer?

The third act makes it clear that the answer is the latter. Ego’s plan is to rebuild the universe and destroy the current one with Peter at his side, until he reveals he gave Peter’s mother the brain cancer that killed her. Then we learn that Yondu’s choice to abduct Peter as a youth was to save the boy from Ego, who deliberately impregnated life forms on various planets to gain a god-like progeny. He simply killed those who didn’t measure up. That revelation demonstrates that, of all relationships, the bond between Peter and Yondu…

Will Peter Quill Return To Earth?

Spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ahead.

When we were first introduced to Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), we saw the eight-year-old child at the side of his mother’s deathbed during the opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy. Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock) laid in a hospital bed succumbing to a brain tumor as Peter looked on.

As she took her final breath, an understandably upset Peter ran outside, where he was quickly beamed into a spaceship we later find out belonged to none other than Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker). The moment Peter was taken by Yondu remains to be Peter’s last moment on Earth, so far.

During the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — the highly-anticipated sequel — movie-goers learned that the brain tumor that eventually took Meredith Quill’s life wasn’t naturally occurring. The tumor was in fact created by Peter’s biological father Ego (Kurt Russell), so that he wouldn’t have to visit Earth any longer.

Upon Ego’s revelation of essentially murdering his former lover, Peter blasted away Ego’s human avatar in a fit of rage. As the final act of Vol. 2 progressed, Peter & Co. fought Ego and eventually succeeded in destroying the sentient planet.

Over the course of the two Guardians movies, Peter lost both biological parents as well as the man he called his dad. He found out his mother was killed by his father. He played a major part in helping his friends destroy his father so that he could no longer hurt anyone. To cap it off, Yondu — the man that raised him from childhood into an adult, just so he wouldn’t have to find out the truth about his real father — sacrificed himself so that Peter could live.

During the events of…

It’s Time for Non-Believers to Give Marvel Its Due

Sometimes, being No. 1 makes you a target.
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

For the piles of money that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has earned since 2008 — more than $11 billion worldwide — and for all the positive reviews that its films have garnered — all of them hold fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes — there still seems to have grown a feeling among some viewers that these films aren’t quite as great as those indicators would suggest.

Sure, fans turn up in droves to watch them, but in more and more pockets of the internet it’s also become commonplace for people to complain (often lovingly and intelligently) about what they’ve just watched. Even positive reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are tempered with phrases like “definitely doesn’t recapture the sweet and singular silliness of the original” or “so many people are likely to forget Vol. 2 before they’ve even left the theater.”

Sometimes, being No. 1 makes you a target, and even I’ve taken part in this. And sure, many of these complaints aren’t without merit. Marvel films do tend to include recycled character and action beats. They contain a similar visual look, and are often afraid to deviate too far from a formula that has, time and again, proven its box office worth.

Even so, what Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and indeed the whole of the MCU, continues to do absolutely deserves to be seen as more than a fanboy’s guilt pleasure. There are so many things the MCU continues to do better than anyone else in the movie business. These are just a few of them — and they may sound counterintuitive at first.

Marvel continues tell smaller stories

Wait, Marvel … small? Yes, it’s true if you think about it. With every massively successful Avengers teamup, Marvel could be tempted to turn its films into variations of the same, simply presenting more epic, world-ending conflicts, just to keep those big box office numbers rolling in. Yet, it has shown remarkable restraint and focus in building its standalone properties.

Though their stakes were still high and action sequences numerous, films like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Ant-Man also managed to lace in smaller, more personal conflicts that didn’t solely revolved around stopping the apocalypse, yet again (though there’s that, too). Filmslike Guardians 2 and Doctor Strange were preeminently focused on telling their own stories rather than acting as some feature-length setup for Avengers: Infinity War.

The Marvel brand is the star, yet directors still add their signature stamps

Even while some of the entries in the MCU do contain those aforementioned repetitive elements,…

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.

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The only new wide release opening this weekend is The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., the first of three Marvel films on the 2017 release calendar. Given fan’s building excitement, and the fact that its nearest competition is The Fate of the Furious, which has been speeding into the top spot the past three weeks, Star-Lord (Peter Quill), Gamora, and the gang should handily land at No. 1 this week.

But here’s how the rest of the Top 10 could play out over the May 5-7 period:

1. The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – $150 million+

Having already earned more than $160 million overseas, and with the film opening in 4300+ locations in North America, the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel is positioned to do quite well, if not cross the $150 million mark — especially given how much better it’s been doing compared to its predecessor in international markets. Though, that may have a lot to do with the fact that not as many movie-goers were familiar with the ragtag gang when they first made their way to theaters in 2014. But seeing how well the previous film performed ($773 million worldwide, adjusted for inflation), not to mention how recent Marvel sequels Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War performed in their opening weekends ($191 million, and $179 million, respectively), GoTG V2 should pull in just as impressive figures.

The second film is set three months after the first one and sees Star-Lord finally meet his father, Ego (Kurt Russell), while on the run from the Sovereign, an alien race angered by one of the Guardians’ actions. James Gunn once again serves as director, with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, and Karen Gillan reprising…

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Is A Guardian Getting Replaced In Vol. 3?

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 AHEAD! ONLY LOOK IF YOU WANT TO KNOW!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which officially opened worldwide this weekend, saw the ragtag gang of misfits gain some new members. While some were assumed based off of the film’s trailers – such as Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) – others, such as Nebula (Karen Gillan) might have caught the audience by surprise.

And in the film’s final moments, as well as its first post-credit scene, it appeared that another character would be joining the roster, but this time, to fill a void left by another character’s demise.

After Yondu sacrificed himself to save Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), the team was left mourning the loss of their friend. Joining them was Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Yondu’s right hand man, who had had a significant hand in helping the Guardians throughout the film.

Since both Kraglin and Peter had long histories with Yondu, Peter gave Kraglin Yondu’s fin and Yaka Arrow, seemingly as an invitation to join the team. And in the film’s first post-credit scene, Kraglin is shown practicing how to use the arrow and fin while on the Guardians’ new ship – ultimately hitting Drax (Dave Bautista) in the process.

Does…

Before ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’: When James Gunn Was a Judge on a Reality Show

The director's bromance with Michael Rooker is on full display in a lengthy clip from the 2008 VH1 reality competition series 'Scream Queens.'
Getty Images James Gunn and Michael Rooker

The on-set Hollywood romance is one of the most time-honored traditions in all of entertainment. Under the hot glow of stage lights, surrounded by onlookers munching stale bagels from the nearby craft services table, many a blossoming love has flowered.

No such love story is more endearing than that of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and his Alabamian muse, Michael Rooker. The filmmaker and star have been fast friends for over a decade, when Rooker starred in Gunn’s 2006 creature-feature directorial debut, Slither.

From that soil of grotesque alien mutation sprouted the sturdy oak of friendship which has only grown stronger over the years. Rooker has appeared in each of Gunn’s subsequent features, including a breakout role as the blue-skinned Ravager Yondu in 2014’s Guardians, a role he reprises in this year’s sequel.

The relationship between the two has been on display for savvy fans for years, and nowhere is it more evidently exhibited than in a recently surfaced clip from the short-lived 2008 VH1 reality series, Scream Queens. The competition program pitted 10 actresses against one another for a coveted role in an upcoming horror film (Saw VI). Gunn, hot off the heels of his feature debut, served as one of the judges on the program. (It’s enjoyable to see Gunn, now one of the hottest directors in Hollywood, having fun on a reality show).

In the…

Get ready to Marvel on Cinco de Mayo! 5 things you need to know Friday

Get ready for more Marvel!

On Friday, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which brings back our space super friends Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Baby Groot for another round of adventures, finally hits movie theaters. It’s the 15th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and just like the first installment, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a winning and wonderfully relatable gem of crazy, according to USA TODAY’s Brian Truitt. If you haven’t seen all the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, don’t worry — there’s no need to watch every single Marvel movie to understand Guardians 2. And one more thing: there are multiple post-credit scenes, so make sure to stay until the very last credit rolls if you want to catch them all.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 19: Actor Chris Pratt arrives

‘El Chapo’ returns to court in drug case

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is scheduled to appear in court Friday, a day after a federal judge ruled that Guzman must remain in solitary confinement as he awaits trial in New York. Since his January extradition from Mexico, where he had escaped twice from government prisons, Guzman has been held in near complete isolation at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Complex. U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan did ease a total ban on Guzman’s contact with family, allowing the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel boss to communicate with his wife via written correspondence. Guzman, who was extradited to the U.S. in the waning…

‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ to Blast Off to Massive $150 Million-Plus Opening

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.

“Fate of the Furious” will hit the road after three weekends in first place.

Enter “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which is set to kick off the summer box office with a bang. The latest from Disney and Marvel should blast off to a domestic opening in the range of $150 million to $170 million. A more conservative estimate from the studio pegged the opening at $140 million and change. The sequel to 2014’s smash hit “Guardians of the Galaxy” will open in 4,300 locations domestically, including 388 Imax screens. As an extra promotion through RealD, 558 spots will offer a 3D double feature starting with the first “Guardians” film and leading into a 7 p.m. screening of the sequel.

“Guardians 2” comes into the weekend with well over $100 million in the bank from international ticket sales. It made more than $106 million in its first weekend at 58% of overseas territories. This week the movie opens in several more major foreign markets — South Korea on May 3, Russia and Argentina on May 4, China on May 5, and Japan on May 12. This is a film that stands a fighting chance of cracking the $1 billion mark globally.

Summer Movie Box Office 2017
Summer Movie Preview: Hollywood Banks on Aging Franchises to Break Records

While the first “Guardians” movie centered around how the band of misfit heroes — played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper — came together, the sequel functions as an origin story. James Gunn is once again at the helm, but whereas he co-wrote the first movie with Nicole Perlman, this time he scripted solo. Gunn is already attached to write and direct the third “Guardians”…