After an entire month where the box office was down from last year, things picked up in the first weekend of August as Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures released James Gunn’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillen and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, which set a new August opening record with an estimated $94 million from 4,080 theaters.
Capitalizing on solid reviews (91% on Rotten Tomatoes) and an “A” CinemaScore, “Guardians” built on its $37.8 million opening day to achieve the third-biggest opening of the year, averaging $23,000 per location. “Guardians'” estimated opening puts it just behind Marvel Studios’ earlier 2014 release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but puts it ahead of the latest installment of other long-running superhero franchises, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The previous August record of $69 million was held by Universal Pictures’ The Bourne Ultimatum back in 2007, which itself beat Rush Hour 2‘s $67.4 million from 2001. The point is that there have not been a lot of big movies opened in the first weekend of August in a number of years and “Guardians” perfectly capitalized on Marvel and Disney’s solid record with moviegoers to set what may be an unbeatable August opening record.
In other words, what many felt was Marvel Studios’ riskiest move to date has proven to be another solid blockbuster hit and not much of a “risk” after all.
3D accounted for 45% of the movie’s opening weekend with males over 26 making up the largest portion of the audience. The movie grossed $11.7 million on 354 IMAX screens, besting the previous August IMAX record set by last year’s Elysium.
Overseas, “Guardians” took in $66.4 million with $13 million coming from Russia, $10.8 million from the UK and $6.5 million from Mexico. It made $5.3 million from its release on 157 international IMAX screens for a global weekend haul of $17 million, also a new August record for IMAX.
Dwayne Johnson’s turn as the mythological hero Hercules (Paramount/MGM) in director Brett Ratner’s action flick dropped to fourth place with $10.7 million, down a whopping 64% from its opening weekend, as its domestic gross reached $52.3 million.
The hit sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox) wrapped up its first month in theaters with $189 million, adding another $8.7 million this weekend to take fifth place.
While Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount) has fallen out of the Top 10, the $241.2 million it has grossed domestically since opening in late June makes it the third-highest grossing movie of the year. Also, this weekend, Bay’s latest crossed the 1 billion mark globally, putting it well ahead of every other release this year.