The numbers are in, at least the estimated ones, and The Hollywood Reporter is calling a $94 million opening weekend for Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s higher than pretty much anyone in their right mind could have expected prior to seeing it, and it crushes the previous record of $69.3 million (set by The Bourne Ultimatum) for a movie opening in August.
That’s already pretty impressive, but let’s move on to the next question: can Guardians finish as the top-grossing movie (domestically) of the 2014 movie season?
It’s hard to even define what the summer movie season is at this point, but most movie sites agree on the first weekend in May as the start. That conveniently leaves out Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the number one movie of 2014 to date, as it opened on April 4. But we’ll get back to Cap and Bucky in a second.
Right now, the top 10 earners opening between May and August look like this (all stats from Box Office Mojo):
- Transformers: Age of Extinction – $241.2 mil
- Maleficent – $234.7 mil
- X-Men: Days of Future Past – $231.7 mil
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $202.4 mil
- Godzilla – $199.9 mil
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $189.3 mil
- 22 Jump Street – $188.5 mil
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $168.6 mil
- Neighbors – $149.7 mil
- The Fault in Our Stars – $123.4
Guardians of the Galaxy does have another fairly significant August release coming up against it this week in Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it should still make enough to be in the top 10 after its second weekend. Transformers opened higher at an even $100 million, but Guardians should have stronger legs thanks to much better reviews and word of mouth.
To get an idea of what it needs to take down Mark Wahlberg and the bots, here’s the pace it would need to be ahead of, in full weeks of release:
- After Week 1 – $138.3 mil
- After Week 2 – $192.5 mil
- After Week 3 – $217.2 mil
- After Week 4 – $231.8 mil
- After Week 5 – $239.0 mil
Just for fun, let’s really stretch the definition of summer movies and add The Winter Soldier back into the mix. Remember that it also had excellent reviews (89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audience feedback, helping it to stay among the top 10 movies for seven weeks:
- After Week 1 – $117.6 mil
- After Week 2 – $ 174.9 mil
- After Week 3 – $208.8 mil
- After Week 4 – $229.4 mil
- After Week 5 – $239.4 mil
- After Week 6 – $246.9 mil
- After Week 7 – $251.8 mil
I think Guardians takes down Transformers and has at least a shot at overtaking Captain America. But regardless, the fact that Marvel opened both movies outside the prime May-July window for wanna-be blockbusters and could end up with the top two earners going into the holiday season tells you a lot about the kind of roll the company is on right now.
It should be an interesting “race” to track — unless you don’t care about any of this, in which case, feel free to ignore it and just enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy for the fun comic book movie that it is.