Audiences were hooked on a feeling this weekend, as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy debuted to out-of-this-world results, taking in an estimated $94 million. That broke the August opening weekend record, previously held by 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.3 million). Just to showcase how large the opening was, Guardians made more than three times what the biggest August opener of 2013, Elysium, made in its first three days ($29.8 million).
The strong start to the space-set sci-fi adventure was a testament to the brand name of Marvel Comics and the studio’s terrific, irreverent marketing campaign. By placing humor next to grandiose sci-fi, Guardians of the Galaxy appealed more to family audiences and stood out from the plethora of more serious action-packed films this summer.
Guardians of the Galaxy currently holds the third biggest opening of the year, behind Transformers: Age of Extinction and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Impressively, a relatively unknown comic-book property brought in a larger audience in its first three days than long-running franchises like Spider-Man and X-Men did this summer. Perhaps after a summer filled with sequels and reboots, audiences wanted something a little more fresh. The sci-fi comedy opened to $37.8 million on Friday (including $11.2 million from late Thursday shows), dropped 15% on Saturday to gross $31 million and is expected to dip just 19% today and earn $25.2 million.
Although the next three weeks are filled with new releases aimed at young males and action fans, Guardians could be strong enough to fend off the competition. Alongside good reviews (including our five-star rave), it earned an A CinemaScore, while aiming slightly toward older moviegoers (a reported 55% of the crowd was over 25) and families (26%). With good word-of-mouth and little out for families, there is a chance Guardians could outgross The Winter Soldier and be Marvel’s biggest film domestically in 2014.
With the help of Guardians of the Galaxy, these past three days set a record for the highest-grossing August weekend of all time. It also brought in more moviegoers than any weekend from this past July, a rare feat. The July box office lost a staggering 30% of business from 2013’s totals, so hopefully August can make up for some of those depleted earnings.
Far back in second place was Luc Besson’s sci-fi thriller Lucy, which dropped 58% to take in $18.3 million. Due to stiff competition from Guardians and poor word-of-mouth, this was actually not too bad of a drop. (In comparison, Noah dropped 61% against The Winter Soldier earlier this year after taking in a similar amount as Lucy in its first three days.) The Scarlett Johansson-thriller should end up with a take of around $115 million state-side, which is very good for an original, R-rated thriller with a modest budget.