Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on Disney Plus — when we expect it

(L to R) Karen Gillan as Nebula, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Starlord and Zoe Saldaña as Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer
(Image credit: Marvel Studios via YouTube)

I need to know when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is coming to Disney Plus. Why? Because I saw it on the Thursday of opening week, and cannot wait to watch both it and the other movies in the series (along with their other appearances in the Avengers movies) soon.

But predicting a Marvel movie's Disney Plus date has gotten increasingly difficult as of late. Despite being less than stellar at the box office, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania took longer than any Marvel movie before it. So, we wonder if Marvel and Disney will do that again — let a movie sit for a while until they believe Disney Plus 'needs' it.

So, for all like me who can't wait to watch the Guardians' third and final chapter at home, I'll break down all the details about when we expect to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on Disney Plus, using the past as prologue.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's Disney Plus release could be as early as July

(L to R) Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) Chris Pratt as Star-Lord and Dave Bautista as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Many movies seemingly rush from the theaters to your home, for on-demand paid digital purchase or streaming. For example, the 45-day window is all Warner Bros. needed to bring The Batman to HBO Max

Of course, box office smash outliers take longer, as was the case with Top Gun: Maverick's Paramount Plus release, which came 209 days after its theatrical date. We're still waiting on Avatar 2's streaming date as well.

But Marvel movies have never had a 45-day window, even though Disney's then-CEO Bob Chapek once said Shang-Chi would have a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window as "an interesting experiment." That got star Simu Liu to tweet "We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers." And as you'll see below, Shang-Chi took even longer to hit Disney Plus: 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Previous Marvel movie Disney Plus release dates
Title, (theatrical date)Disney Plus dateDays before Disney PlusGlobal box office
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Sept. 3, 2021)Friday, November 12, 202170$432 million USD
Eternals (November 5, 2021)Wednesday, January 12, 202268$402 million USD
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6, 2022)Wednesday, June 22, 202247$952 million USD
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8, 2022)Thursday, September 8, 202260$760 million USD
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11, 2022)Wednesday, February 1, 202382$855 million USD
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February 17, 2023)Wednesday, May 17, 202389$474 million USD

Only Thor: Love and Thunder came close to 45 days, with a 47-day gap.

But when you look at all of those dates, you'll notice how the 60-70 day range still has more than others, you get an idea of the next possible range. You'll also notice that Wednesday is a favorite for theatrical movies to hit Disney Plus.

So let's consider July 5th and July 12th — the Wednesdays that are 61 and 68 days after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 came out — as the earliest likely Disney Plus dates.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's worst-case Disney Plus release date would be in August

Zoe Saldana as Gamora in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

(Image credit: Jessica Miglio / Marvel Studios)

The more-recent Disney Plus release dates, though, suggest an 82 or 89-day gap. So, if Ant-Man 3 and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are indicative of a new trend at Disney, fans will be waiting for either Wednesday, July 26 or Wednesday, August 2. 

And that later date could make sense, because Marvel's Secret Invasion debuts on June 21st, and that's a six-episode series. If those debut one per week, Marvel fans wouldn't have any reason to go without Disney Plus until August.

Outlook: When we think Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits Disney Plus

If I had to take the over or the under, I'd go for the former. While putting Guardians out on July 4th week is visually perfect given its filmic fireworks, Disney Plus won't need it until after Secret Invasion. 

Also, Disney probably won't want to draw eyes away from the box office, as it's dropping Indiana Jones 5 on June 30th.

So, while I'd love to be surprised, I'm putting my bet for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's Disney Plus date to be Wednesday, August 2. 

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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.