In another sign of the return to China for Marvel after a long drought, Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been set for a day-and-date release on May 5. The James Gunn-directed finale in the series is due to hit North American cinemas that same day while international rollout will begin on May 3. (Check out the new China poster below.)
This marks the third Marvel title to secure a theatrical release in China following a three-and-a-half year period during which no movies featuring a Marvel character gained entry to the world’s second largest box office market. Last month, Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania became the first titles in since Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home in June 2019, and Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame in April that same year.
Neither Wakanda Forever ($15.6M) nor Quantumania ($39M through last Sunday) spun Chinese turnstiles off their axes in February — the former having already been in release elsewhere since November 2022 and the latter dinged by poor early reviews, a Chinese New Year hangover and bearing the burden of being the first fresh Marvel movie aiming to get audiences back in the habit. Overall, and outside of Avatar: The Way of Water, Chinese audiences have lately been tepid on Hollywood movies, but hope springs.
The Guardians films have historically done strong, if not explosive, business in China. The 2014 original made just over $86M at 2014 rates and the sequel did nearly $101M in 2017, likewise at historical rates.
Guardians 3 will kick off summer in North America on May 5; according to a Fandango survey there in late December, it was the most anticipated movie of 2023.
In GOTG3, Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill is still reeling from the loss of Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. He must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.
China of late has increasingly doled out day-and-date releases for Hollywood titles, including Quantumania, Shazam! Fury of the Gods (which kicks off Friday — ie, today — in the market), Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves on March 31 and The Super Mario Bros Movie (also starring Pratt) on April 5.