The fact that we all saw it coming doesn’t make it any less impressive. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has just set a new opening record for August with an estimated $94 million. In fact, ‘demolished’ is probably a more accurate term. The previous box office benchmark was $69.3 million, set back in 2007 by The Bourne Ultimatum. The weekend’s other new release, the James Brown biopic Get On Up, came in third with an estimated $14 million.
|1.||Guardians of the Galaxy||$94,000,000||$94|
|3.||Get On Up||$14,000,000||$14|
|5.||Dawn of the Planet of the Apes||$8,700,000||$189.3|
|6.||Planes: Fire & Rescue||$6,424,000||$47.6|
|7.||The Purge: Anarchy||$5,551,000||$62.9|
|9.||And So It Goes||$3,344,000||$10.4|
|10.||A Most Wanted Man||$3,324,000||$7|
Full story after the jump.
It’s been a long time since this summer’s box office had something to celebrate. Six weeks ago Transformers: Age of Extinction became the only release of 2014 to open above $100 million, although in the larger picture its performance paled in comparison to previous releases in the series. X-Men: Days of Future Past and 22 Jump Street both outperformed their predecessors – but they came out in May and June, respectively. Since then it’s been one losing frame after another.
Little wonder that Guardians of the Galaxy was so highly-anticipated. Since 2012, when Marvel’s The Avengers opened to an astounding $207 million, any film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been catnip for audiences. Even so, Guardians of the Galaxy seemed like a harder sell than your average Avengers spin-off. The eponymous Guardians were an odd lot that lacked a true following outside of the comics. Even more notably, Guardians had no clear connection to the rest of the Marvel universe, which meant that the fabled ‘Avengers-bump’ might not be in play this time out.
The unknown element was part of the reason Disney/Marvel chose August to launch Guardians of the Galaxy. As you can probably tell by The Bourne Ultimatum’s long standing record, August is not usually host to outsized opening weekends. This is also the first time that Marvel has opened one of its properties so late in summer. In 2011, Captain America: The First Avenger premiered towards the end of July, and Thor: The Dark World opened last November, but all other Marvel titles have hit in the heart of summer.
Here’s a look back at the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to this point:
|1.||Iron Man (2008)||$98.6||$318.4||$585.1|
|2.||The Incredible Hulk (2008)||$55.4||$134.8||$263.4|
|3.||Iron Man 2 (2010)||$128.1||$312.4||$623.9|
|5.||Captain America (2011)||$65||$176.6||$368.6|
|6.||Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)||$207.4||$623.3||$1.5 bil.|
|7.||Iron Man 3 (2013)||$174.1||$409||$806.4|
|8.||Thor: The Dark World (2013)||$85.7||$206.3||$644.7|
|9.||Captain America: The Winter Soldier||$95||$258.9||$713.2|
Today’s estimate for Guardians of the Galaxy puts it on par with Captain America 2 – no small accomplishment considering the latter is currently 2014’s highest-grossing release. Most projections had Guardians opening with about $75 million, or right between the two Thor features. Instead, Guardians of the Galaxy ended up topping Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past to become this year’s third-highest debut. Transformers 4 is still the champ.
In the shadow of Guardians of the Galaxy, the rest of this weekend’s features struggled. Lucy, last weekend’s top film, was down 58% in its sophomore frame – though that was a mild drop compared to the -64% of Hercules. Universal’s Get On Up was the only other new face at the box office; and while the biopic’s $14 debut was dwarfed by the might of Marvel, this morning’s estimate was in line with Universal’s pre-release expectations.
The weekend’s total domestic box office gross exceeded $183 million: up 32 percent over last year. This morning’s record-breaking launch, and the fact that the film is indeed “the best reviewed blockbuster of the year,” should help Guardians hold on to the top spot for a second frame. Among the handful of new releases opening next weekend, the only real threat to Marvel will come from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, which is expected to open with just under $40 million. If both Guardians and Turtles perform as expected, 2014 could actually achieve the unthinkable: two winning weekends in a row! It’s sad that box office success has to be measured in such trifling terms, but at this point in the season we’ll take a win where we can get it.