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'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' set to explode at the box office

Trailer for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista and Karen Gillan.

It was reasonable to ask, in 2014, who would want to see a movie with Vin Diesel as a tree-alien and Bradley Cooper as a talking raccoon. Millions of people did, it turns out, and now three years later, we have a sequel — “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

The latest movie from Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios is expected to be yet another blockbuster for the superhero film company, probably opening with $150 million in ticket sales from the U.S. and Canada, analysts say. That would easily be the second-biggest opening of the year so far, behind Disney’s own “Beauty and the Beast” ($175 million), and mark a strong official start to the summer movie season.

Here’s how “Guardians 2” is likely to stack up:

What sequelitis?

Much about the first “Guardians” seemed so fresh at the time. The winking humor, the unheard of characters (Groot who?) and 1970s pop soundtrack put an original spin on a stale genre. But in Hollywood, everything new gets repackaged and resold, raising the question of whether the latest film, which cost $200 million to make, would retain the charm.

An early good sign for fans was the return of writer-director James Gunn, as well as stars Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana. “Guardians 2” also introduces franchise newcomers including Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone.

The series has clearly found a winning formula in dollar terms. A domestic opening of $150 million would be significantly higher than its predecessor, which arrived with a $94-million haul. The large potential upswing comes at a time when many sequels fail to match the openings of what came before.

It remains to be seen what kind of repeat business the sequel will enjoy. The original “Guardians” kept bringing audiences back, eventually taking in $333 million in the United States and Canada and $440 million overseas.

Baby Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."
Baby Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." (Disney-Marvel via AP)

A hit around the world?

As moviegoers await the stateside release, “Guardians” is already on a cassette tape-fueled roll overseas. The picture began its international rollout last week in countries including France, Germany, Brazil, Spain and Britain.

“Guardians 2” hit $106 million in global ticket sales in its international bow, topping the $65-million opening weekend the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” scored in 2014, adjusted for today’s exchange rates. Like Americans, most people around the world weren’t aware of the characters or storyline last time around, other than the most dedicated comic book aficionados.

Including Monday grosses, the sequel has raked in $133 million so far, a total that’s expected to expand when the film hits South Korea, Russia and China this week. China, the world’s second-biggest movie market, gets the new “Guardians” on Friday, the same day as the United States.

The studio appears confident in its future prospects. Gunn will return to write and direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” the filmmaker said in April.

Eugenio Derbez as Maximo in "How to Be a Latin Lover."
Eugenio Derbez as Maximo in "How to Be a Latin Lover." (Claudette Barius / Pantelion)

Anything else to watch?

Not really.

No studio wants to compete head-on with “Guardians.” Those moviegoers unimpressed by Marvel’s space-traveling misfits may catch holdovers like STX’s “The Circle” or Pantelion’s “How to Be a Latin Lover,” a Eugenio Derbez comedy that did a better-than-expected $12 million last weekend.

There’s also “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion,” an Indian historical epic that stunned the industry last weekend by grossing more than $10 million from 425 theaters and landed in third place on the domestic charts. Also, “Fate of the Furious” is still making money after crossing the $1-billion milestone over the weekend.

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder

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