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October 25, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014

Guardians returns to reclaim box office win from Turtles

By Jake Coyle
AP Film Writer (*)
NEW YORK — Guardians of the Galaxy became the season’s top-grossing movie at the North American box office with a US$17.6 million weekend that narrowly bested the young adult melodrama If I Stay, while the long-delayed Sin City sequel, A Dame to Kill For, flopped.

With an estimated US$17.6 million in its fourth weekend of release, the Marvel space adventure passed Transformers: Age of Extinction to become the season’s biggest domestic hit with a cumulative total of US$252 million. The film, released by Disney, was an unlikely August sensation (late season is usually an afterthought in Hollywood) that helped the box office rebound somewhat after big-budget sequels like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and How To Train Your Dragon 2 failed to ignite the multiplexes.

“This movie just couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. “When we were really down and out in the summer box office — at one point down 20 percent from last year — Guardians came along and injected life. What is surprising is that it was a film launched in August.”

The Warner Bros. tearjerker If I Stay failed to top the box office with a weekend haul of US$16.4 million, according to studio estimates yesterday. In the film, a co-production between MGM and New Line Cinema, Chloe Grace Moretz stars as a teen in a coma after a car accident. It came in third place behind Paramount’s reptile reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which made US$16.8 million in its third weekend.

Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said the studio was pleased with the performance of If I Stay considering its US$11 million production budget. Advance tracking on the film had forecast a box office-topping result, but tracking had also expected Sin City: A Dame to Kill For to open in the mid-teens. It made just US$6.5 million. “This is a complete miss,” said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Co.’s distribution chief. “Obviously, we’re very, very disappointed in the numbers. We definitely did not see it coming in like this.”

The hurt was particularly acute, Lomis said, because it happened with a longtime Weinstein Co. collaborator, director Robert Rodriguez. He helmed the first Sin City film, which opened with US$29.1 million in 2005 and made US$159 million globally. But nine years is a long time to wait for a sequel, and clearly the novelty of the film’s digital adaptation of Frank Miller’s black-and-white graphic novels wore off with both moviegoers and critics.

The faith-based high school football film When the Game Stands Tall opened with US$9.1 million for Sony.

@jake_coyle

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