Guardians of the Galaxy Soars To Record $94m Opening Weekend
Last week, all anybody in the industry could talk about was just how high could Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy fly at the box office. Before its release, most pundits thought James Gunn's space buddy movie had a shot at securing around $70m in its opening weekend, a figure not seen before for an August release. By the time the dust settled on Thursday's pre-opening screenings, that figure of $70m was starting to look conservative; Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Peter Quill were looking set to restart the stalling summer box office engine and some experts were revising their forecasts to suggest that Guardians of the Galaxy could take home as much as $90m.
3 days later, that $90m has become a whopping $94m. To put that in perspective, $94 million is not only by far and away the biggest August opening of all time, it's the third biggest opening of 2014 so far, falling just behind Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction ($100m) and coming agonizingly close to Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95m). When you consider that Guardians of the Galaxy was Marvel Studios' first movie outside of the Avengers universe, such an opening is incredibly impressive. This will be a performance to give Marvel and Disney execs a great deal of confidence as they look to diversify their character offering going into Phase 3.
"Having a great movie that's original is such a rare thing anymore. This film and its reception around the world proves Marvel can break new ground with unique characters," said Disney's Dave Hollis.
Indeed, the studio will no doubt be delighted at beating two other Marvel products in the box-office this year. Fox's X-Men Days of Future Past ($90.3) and Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($91m) were both bested by this relatively young pretender on the comic book adaptation scene, leaving many to suggest that as far as future products such as Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Doctor Strange are concerned, the sky really is the limit. However, it's safe to say that Marvel's biggest test over the next 18 months will no doubt be the troubled Ant Man production. If Ant Man posts some satisfactory numbers, anybody claiming 'Marvel Fatigue' is setting into audiences will surely be forced to eat their words.
BoxOfficeMojo's Ray Subers had a couple of interesting points to make on just why Guardians of the Galaxy has been so overwhelmingly successful. Of course Subers points out that Marvel's mass appeal is at an all time high right now but interestingly, James Gunn's movie resonated more with women than any Marvel product before it. 44% of Guardians of the Galaxy's audience was female, compared to the previous best of 40% seen back in 2012 during screenings of Avengers. Subers notes that 55% of audiences were over the age of 25, but if you went to the theater to see it over the weekend, you will have also noticed the large number of younger moviegoers turning out to see these new Marvel heroes. The likes of Rocket Raccoon and Groot are instantly appealing to the youngest echelons of the market and Disney's powerful marketing campaign has done well to play up to that on mass media outlets.
Despite all of this, the most powerful factor in the movie's success is the incredible word of mouth and critical reception it received. Currently sitting at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and with a 'A' grade on Cinema Score, Guardians of the Galaxy has succeeded in capturing the hearts of a massive audience while pleasing a broad spectrum of critics. Just look at social media, for example. Twitter and Facebook have been exploding with positive feelings towards James Gunn's movie. People are enchanted with these characters, and for that the director and everybody involved in it should give themselves a firm pat on the back for making an outstanding box office smash.