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November 24, 2014
Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians rockets to the top of the box office

Actor Chris Pratt at the UK premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel cosmic romp blasts expectations with US$94-million debut

LOS ANGELES — Guardians of the Galaxy blasted past expectations at the weekend box office. Marvel Studios’ cosmic romp starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista as members of an intergalactic band of rebels earned US$94 million in its debut weekend, according to studio estimates yesterday. Ahead of its Friday debut, box office analysts initially projected that the comic book adaptation would earn between US$60 million and US$75 million in North America.

The out-of-this-world launch gives Guardians the biggest opening for a film released in the traditionally low-key month of August, a record previously held by the US$69.2 million debut of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. It also makes Guardians the third largest opening of 2014, coming behind the US$95 million inauguration of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April and the US$100 million launch of Transformers: Age of Extinction in June.

Guardians, which also features Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voicing the computer-generated characters Rocket Raccoon and Groot, was originally considered a risky proposition for Marvel and Guardians distributor Walt Disney Co. because it features more obscure characters from the Marvel universe and is set almost entirely in outer space.

Despite any apprehension, Marvel was betting on Guardians, written and directed by Slither filmmaker James Gunn, to be a blockbuster. The studio announced at Comic-Con in San Diego last month that a sequel is already set for release in 2017. Marvel’s next films are the follow-up The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Both movies are coming in 2015.

Marvel comic book adaptations have dominated 2014 with Sony Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past and Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier, each arriving in first place at the box office on their respective opening weekends.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, believes Marvel is unstoppable at this point. “This is a brand that transcends any character within their universe,” he said. “The mere mention of the name Marvel is enough to get people into the movie theatre. That’s somewhat rare. Pixar obviously has a similar cachet, but for Marvel to have four films this year open with over US$90 million is amazing. It’s unprecedented success.”

Disney noted that Guardians hauled in an additional US$66.4 million from 42 international territories, including Argentina, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and the United Kingdom, making it the first-place film overseas.

In a distant second place at the North American box office, Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman with mind-bending powers, nabbed US$18.3 million in its second weekend, bringing the Universal Pictures release’s domestic total to US$80 million. Meanwhile, Universal’s James Brown biopic Get on Up featuring Chadwick Boseman as the soulful singer opened in third place with us$14 million.

Hercules, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the legendary muscle man, was fourth for the weekend with US$10.7 million. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was fifth with US$8.7 million. The film has totalled more than US$189.3 million in sales in North America, according to Rentrak.

Herald with AP, Reuters

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