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 hit, according to estimates. 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. A third “Guardians” is already planned, as are crossovers with Marvel’s Avengers.

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).

Fearing the might of “Guardians,” no other major studio releases debuted over the weekend. The gap between first and second at the box office was immense. “The Fate of the Furious” came in at No. 2 with $8.5 million in its fourth weekend and has now grossed $1.6 billion worldwide, followed by “The Boss Baby,” $6.2 million, “How to Be a Latin Lover,” $5.3 million, and “Beauty and the Beast,” $4.9 million.

– From news service reports