‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Soars to Biggest Thursday Box Office Opening of the Year

Who needs Iron Man?

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” got off to a rousing start on Thursday, rocketing to $11.2 million in late night preview screenings. That’s the biggest pre-opening total of the year, besting another Marvel title, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s” $10.2 million start in April. Roughly $1.9 million of “Guardian’s” initial haul came from Imax screenings.

Despite lacking a top-shelf superhero in the form of Captain America or Thor, the comic book adaptation is on track for the biggest August opening in history, topping “The Bourne Ultimatum’s” $69.3 million bow. It is expected to premiere to north of $75 million, but could soar even higher given that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” debuted to $95 million this spring and this film is hitting loftier numbers.

The film is a record-breaker in another sense. It will have the widest August opening in history when it expands to 4,080 theaters on Friday, nearly 3,200 of which are in 3D, carrying with them surcharges. Overseas, the film will debut in 42 international territories including the United Kingdom, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and South Korea. The picture carries an $170 million production budget.

Overseas, the film is off to a strong start, racking up $2.3 million in the United Kingdom and Ireland, nabbing $3.5 million in Russia, and generating $1.6 million across several South and Central American countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

James Gunn, a habitué of the indie and horror worlds through such films as “Super” and “Slither,” directs the film about a rag-tag group of space cowboys. Chris Pratt, best known for his comedic turn in “Parks & Recreation,” should enjoy a nice career bounce for his work as the Han Solo-esque, Star Lord. The picture’s mix of laughs and spectacle has been hailed by critics — it currently enjoys a 91% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The weekend’s other wide release, Universal Pictures’ James Brown biopic, “Get on Up,” grossed an estimated $371,000 when it screened Thursday in 1,769 locations. It is expected to make between $12 million to $14 million when it expands to 2,466 theaters on Friday.

The Guardians and the “Godfather of Soul” will find a summer box office that has been decimated by too many blockbusters that weren’t. Domestically, ticket receipts are down 20% from last year. Exhibitors are clearly holding out for a hero, to paraphrase the great Bonnie Tyler. It looks like one just arrived in the form of a wise-cracking raccoon and a talking tree.

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  1. jon.m'shulla says:

    I saw The Guardians of The Galaxy last night and loved every minute of it. Funniest film in years. It was action packed and amazing. The whole audience was into it. Loved it so much, I’ll see it at the movies again. A+

  2. Jim Harlow says:

    I saw this movie in 3D IMAX last night. They saved the best movie of the summer for last. It all works. In fact, I can’t think of a scene that didn’t work. It did not disappoint in the least. I felt like a little kid on Christmas day. This is the reason I love going to the movies. It is moving, funny, immensely entertaining, and somehow manages to feel totally fresh. Chris Pratt is going to be a major star. The camera loves him. He can be a romantic leading man, do both comedy and drama, and is great even when he’s being goofy. An awesome talent. It’s really great to see a new face on the screen. How about writing a new Indiana Jones movie for THIS guy!

  3. With these surprising news, Guardians of the Galaxy will very likely now pass $100 million in its opening weekend.

  4. ap indy says:

    This one isn’t crap. This one is total unadulterated fun.

  5. LOL says:

    Told you America loves crap.

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