Virtually nobody at the start of the summer movie season predicted that the biggest film at the North American box office this summer would be Guardians of the Galaxy. It was a film full of mostly unknown characters that was opening in August in the normally dreadful-at-the-box-office genre of sci-fi comedy. Now, after a summer of muted returns for some of the most anticipated movies, all box office prognosticators look like a bunch of suckers.
Guardians of the Galaxy is officially the highest-grossing domestic film of 2014 – surpassing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, another Marvel film – and will probably remain so until Katniss Everdeen heats up the screen in November. It is also the biggest Marvel movie ever to not feature Peter Parker or Tony Stark. It kept its unstoppable box-office run going this weekend, too, taking in $16.3 million and the #1 spot. That is a tiny 5% drop from its gross last weekend, aided by strong word-of-mouth, poor openers and a rush of families hoping to check out the summer’s big hits before school starts. Disney is estimating a four-day take of $21.2 million.
With $274.6 million through Sunday, the film has nearly matched Iron Man‘s total through the same point. With little coming out in the next two weeks, expect good holds. A total of more than $315 million looks likely at this point as well. With nearly $550 million worldwide and counting, it will be hard for Disney executives to wipe the big smiles off of their faces for the next little while.
Speaking of late August hits, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles held well this weekend, too, grossing $11.8 million to take second place. With $162.7 million in its coffer, the 3D action film surpassed the first G.I. Joe‘s total. It should end its run with nearly $190 million and has held up very well considering the mixed word-of-mouth from opening weekend. While studios push hard so that films of a similar genre and potential audience do not open at around the same time, this August has proved that two high-profile 3D action movies aimed at families and young adult males can open a week apart and perform exceptionally. (Meanwhile, The Expendables 3 and the sequel to Sin City bombed in major form… so, the box office is still kind of unpredictable.)
Last weekend’s top three repeated again this frame, as young adult adaptation If I Stay took the bronze once again, dropping 41% to earn $9.3 million. (Warner Bros. predicts $11.6 million for the four-day weekend.) While the film has racked up only $29.8 million so far, that is still a solid amount, given the drama’s $11 million budget. It will likely outgross Carrie, which also starred Chloe Grace Moretz, and may even come close to The Lovely Bones (which had more buzz and a much bigger production budget). Expect a final gross between $40 and $45 million, which will be about a third of The Fault in Our Stars‘ total.