'Guardians of the Galaxy' rules the box office

REUTERS

, Last Updated: 5:34 PM ET

Guardians of the Galaxy, Walt Disney Co’s offbeat space adventure featuring extraterrestrial misfits and a talking raccoon, made US$94 million in ticket sales this weekend, setting a record for an August film opening.

The film’s strong beginning, however, isn’t likely to jumpstart a lacklustre summer box office season.

The 3D movie, which stars lesser-known characters in Disney’s Marvel comic book universe, added $66.4 million from international markets, for a global debut of $160.4 million, Disney said on Sunday.

Guardians outgunned last weekend’s leader, the science-fiction thriller Lucy that collected another $18.3 million in sales at domestic theatres, according to estimates from Rentrak.

Lucy stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman with a super-powered brain.

Get On Up, a biography of the soul singer James Brown, was third with $14 million in its first weekend in theatres.

Guardians stars an ensemble cast that includes Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Chris Pratt. After positive reviews, the film was the year’s biggest Thursday night opening with $11.2 million in sales starting with 7 p.m. shows.

Even before the film’s opening, Walt Disney said it was planning a sequel for release in July 2017.

Head of distribution for Walt Disney Studios Dave Hollis attributed the strong performance of Guardians to a combination of momentum started by Transformers: Age of Extinction in June, skillful marketing, and strong reviews.

“It starts with a great movie, and certainly the marketing was inspired,” Hollis said.

Disney had marketed the film’s lighter moments in trailers and commercials, including a machinegun-firing raccoon, to expand its popularity beyond traditional Marvel movie fans.

The movie features a soundtrack of music from the 1970s, including the songs Hooked on a Feeling and Spirit in the Sky.

Transformers: Age of Extinction just passed $1 billion in global box office returns, according to Paramount Pictures.

Guardians performance, which beat Hollywood forecasts of a $65 million to $80 million opening, are not likely to energize the summer box office, however, as ticket sales are currently running 18% behind last year, according to Rentrak.

“It doesn’t end it but it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Rentrak’s senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian about the slump.

It only gave the overall summer box office a 2% lift, he said.

Hercules, starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson as the legendary muscle man, was fourth for the weekend with $10.7 million.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was fifth with $8.7 million. The film has totalled more than $189.3 million in sales in U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak.

The top films at the North American box office

Following are the top 10 movies at North American box offices for the three days starting Aug 1, led by “Guardians of the Galaxy,” according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters.

(*) Guardians of the Galaxy................$94 million

2 (1) Lucy...................................$18.3 million

3 (*) Get On Up..............................$14 million

4 (2) Hercules...............................$10.7 million

5 (3) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.........$8.7 million

6 (5) Planes: Fire and Rescue................$6.4 million

7 (4) The Purge: Anarchy.....................$5.6 million

8 (6) Sex Tape...............................$3.6 million

9 (8) And So It Goes.........................$3.3 million

10 (10) A Most Wanted Man......................$3.3 million

Last week’s rank in parentheses. (*) new release.

CUMULATIVE TOTALS:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes................$189.3 million

Guardians of the Galaxy.......................$94 million

Lucy..........................................$ 79.6 million

The Purge: Anarchy............................$ 63 million

Hercules......................................$ 52.3 million

Planes: Fire and Rescue.......................$ 47.6 million

Sex Tape......................................$ 33.9 million

Get On Up.....................................$ 14.0 million

And So It Goes................................$ 10.5 million

A Most Wanted Man.............................$ 7.1 million

Guardians of the Galaxy and Planes, Fire and Rescue were distributed by Walt Disney Co. Get on Up, Lucy and The Purge: Anarchy were distributed by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp. Hercules was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. Sex Tape was distributed by Sony Corp. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox. And So It Goes was released by privately held Clarius Entertainment. A Most Wanted Man was released by Roadside Attractions.

 


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