Marvel Studios was already banking on GotG being a success, with a sequel announced before the first movie even came out. Still, a $94 million debut in America is a good $30 million more than they were expecting. It’s also the new record for an August opening weekend, beating out The Bourne Ultimatum’s mere $69.3 million from back in 2007.
This gives GotG the third most successful opening weekend of the year, after Transformers: Age of Extinction and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which come from established franchises. GotG isn’t exactly the little indie movie that could, but it still comes from a far more obscure source than Captain America or Transformers.
A year ago, virtually nobody knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were, but now everyone wants a dancing Groot toy and a copy of Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Marvel took a gamble with one of its more offbeat properties, and it paid off. And honestly, this looks like the final nail in the coffin for the filmmaking side of the DC/Marvel rivalry. While Marvel has achieved this kind of success with a film starring a sitcom actor, a tree, and a raccoon, DC/Warner Bros. is about to roll out its second and third live-action Batman reboots in the past decade, with the only innovation being the eventual appearance of Wonder Woman.
GotG’s success can partly be attributed to the fact that it’s a fun, well-reviewed summer movie, but there’s also a certain element of brand loyalty at play. With 10 movies under its belt, Marvel Studios now commands a lot of audience respect and genuine fandom in its own right, which isn’t something you can say of most major studios.
Marvel Studios is now far more comparable to something like the media brand of Disney animation than to big Hollywood franchises like Transformers, which are tied to their directors and stars. Guardians of the Galaxy proves that Marvel now has the power to launch an obscure title, directed by a relatively unknown filmmaker, and starring a relatively weird cast, and still have it be a massive success.
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