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

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 sequel’s Thursday night earnings are the biggest of the year so far. (Disney-Marvel via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” rocketed to an estimated $145 million debut. It kicked off Hollywood’s summer movie season with something the movie business has been lacking: a sequel more successful than the original.

Studio estimates released Sunday said James Gunn’s second “Guardians” film opened 54 percent higher than the 2014 runaway hit. That release 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 “Guardians,” too, by moving it to the first weekend in May, the start of the lucrative summer movie season.

Fearing the might of “Guardians,” no other major studio releases debuted over the weekend.

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