Disney reports that Guardians of the Galaxy bowed to a stellar $37.8 million on Friday, positioning the flick to earn upward of $95 million this weekend.
For full perspective, that tops Captain America: The First Avenger's $25.7 million first day in July 2011 by a whopping 47 percent, while also exceeding Thor: The Dark World's $31.9 million by 18.5 percent, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier's $36.9 million by over 2 percent. Guardians only trails Godzilla ($38.4 million) and Transformers: Age of Extinction ($41.9 million) as the third best opening day of the year.
For those curious, falling "short" of Transformers 4's opening day take despite posting a stronger Thursday night gross ($11.2 million versus $8.8 million) is generally irrelevant. Marvel's core fan audience creates an inherently stronger rush-out factor, particularly with a film like Guardians whose overwhelmingly positive buzz had been growing well in advance.
There can be no exaggeration: this opening further cements the drawing power of the Marvel brand name, while simultaneously launching another sub-franchise for their cinematic universe. It also marks another major milestone for budding star Chris Pratt following The LEGO Movie. This weekend's success should be also good news for Universal's Jurassic World next summer, which Pratt leads.
As their tenth entry in the overall MCU saga, Marvel gambled with a cast of completely unknown characters and an off-beat action/humor hybrid that had many inside and outside the industry suspecting the film could be their first miss at the box office. Obviously, and as BoxOffice had been forecasting since the first trailer launched, that didn't come to pass. Still, like any great box office stories, the size of this debut is one that virtually no one saw coming just a few short months ago.
Early word of mouth appears to be as strong as the film's reviews, boasting a 96 percent Flixster score and 92 percent Rotten Tomatoes score as of Saturday morning. The former edges out Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past (95 percent each) to claim the best day-after-release score of the year. August looks a little busier than usual this year, but there's little doubt that Guardians will play well through (and perhaps beyond) the end of summer.
Universal's Get On Up opened to $5 million on Friday. While that's notably 40 percent behind Lee Daniels' The Butler's $8.3 million first day last August, the James Brown biopic almost certainly lost out on some of the young adult crowd to Guardians. With a 77 percent Flixster score and 76 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, healthy legs should be expected for the counter-programming adult option. BoxOffice projects a $14.9 million weekend.
Lucy fell 68 percent from its opening day to $5.5 million yesterday to give it an 8-day haul of $66.8 million. By comparison, Salt dipped 53 percent on its second Friday in 2010--although its stiffest competition was the third weekend of Inception. BoxOffice projects $18.1 million for Lucy's sophomore frame.
Paramount's and MGM's Hercules dropped 72 percent from last Friday to $3.15 million yesterday. With $44.8 million in the bank after 8 days, the film is behind Wrath of the Titans by 9 percent at the same point. BoxOffice projects a $10 million weekend.
Rounding out the top five, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes posted $2.43 million for its fourth Friday, giving it $183.1 million domestically to date. The sequel is now running 28 percent ahead of the pace of its 2011 predecessor. Look for a weekend figure around $8.5 million.