‘Guardians’ leads box office with $117 million opening

“Guardians of the Galaxy,” the latest action film from Walt Disney’s Marvel Studios, opened as the top weekend picture in US cinemas, smashing forecasts with ticket sales of $94 million (S$117 million) for the best August opening ever.

The picture, a funnier take on usually serious super-hero films, was forecast to pull in $72 million to $75 million, the estimates of BoxOfficeGuru.com and BoxOffice.com.

With “Guardians,” Disney and Marvel are bringing a scrappy, less-known group of comic-book heroes to cinemas, with an eye toward a new film series.

The studio spent $170 million making the movie, according to Box Office Mojo, and many millions on marketing, adding up to a big bet.

“Guardians” opened in 4,080 theaters, the biggest release ever for August, according to Paul Dergarabedian, researcher​ Rentrak’s senior media analyst.

Astounding numbers

The sales number “is absolutely astounding, especially since this is not a sequel, and what makes it even more impressive is that it’s based on characters that are not household names,” Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s a combination of a very strong brand for Marvel, the built-in audience of comic-book fans who know these characters and also the factor that they really made a really good film.”

Sales at Imax theaters totaled $17 million, the best-ever for an August opening. Rentrak said the movie is the third-biggest debut for this year.

“Guardians” stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, an American pilot who becomes the target of a unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by the super-villain Ronan, played by Lee Pace.

Quill joins with four misfits, and after discovering the true power of the orb, he leads an effort to save the galaxy, according to a studio synopsis of the picture. The film co-stars Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista, along with the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper. - Washington Post