Update Monday August 4: “You said it yourself. We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Yes, a movie about a misfit group forced together, led by a smartass one-liner delivering charismatic (and slightly cocky) guy that features a talking raccoon and a butt-kicking tree can succeed. Yes, Marvel Studios is basically invincible now.
After initial estimates of around $65 million earlier in the week, Guardians of the Galaxy annihilated the previous record for an August release (Bourne Ultimatum’s $69.3 million) by about 25 million dollars, soaring to a $94 million debut. That puts it at just 1 million dollars less than Captain America: The Winter Soldier and about 8 million more than Thor: The Dark World. And again, this movie features a raccoon and a tree as two-fifths of its primary ensemble cast.
In fact, the movie isn’t just the best August release ever, but also the third best debut of 2014, behind only Cap and Transformers: Age of Extinction, both of which were playing off of their significant lead-ins of previous films in the franchise.
And yes, the sequel is on the way, with James Gunn reporting over the weekend on his Facebook that he spent the entire opening weekend working on the film.
BoxOfficeMojo reports that the movie’s success can be placed not just in the hands of Gunn, the quirky cast, throwback soundtrack, and Marvel Studios’ impressive track record: it also owes its success to women. Exit polls said this movie was seen by more women than any Marvel Cinematic Universe movie yet, with 44% of the audience female. That bested The Avengers previous personal record of 40%. Guardians also set a record for IMAX in August by 7 million dollars with an $11.7 mil haul, opened strongly in international markets, and analysts say it could wind up being the highest-grossing domestic film with little competition and strong word-of-mouth continuing.
Original Story: For most of its production life, Marvel Studio's Guardians of the Galaxy was thought by Hollywood analysts to be a risky proposition, one that might put Marvel's incredible winning streak into question. Now the Marvel brand is stronger than ever and the only questions surrounding Guardians is how big a success it'll be.
According to all the Hollywood trades Friday morning, Guardians of the Galaxy pulled in $11.2m in Thursday night showings in North America starting at 7pm, making it the best Thursday opening of 2014, even surpassing the totals of previous leader Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($10.2m, 8pm start time), along with Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($8.7m, 7pm) and X-Men: Days of Future Past ($8.1m, 10pm).
All are somewhat apples and oranges comparisons given the different start times and seasons (kids are out of school) but Guardians is now poised to easily exceed Marvel's own conservative estimates for its opening weekend ($65m, on par with the launch of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger) and take the crown for best North American August opening weekend ever, currently held by 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.2m).
For a new franchise launch not based on recognizable characters during what's been a off-summer for the box office, and given its critical reception (currently a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), the narrative surrounding Guardians will be nothing but accolades for it and Marvel for the remainder of the weekend and through the next several weeks.
The film is also off to a strong $11m start in foreign markets.
Look for box office updates throughout the weekend as we learn how high Guardians will go.