Wow! Who would've thought Guardians of the Galaxy would open at $94.3 million this past weekend? Marvel Studios' tenth film was tracking at a solid $65 million, but somehow managed to breakthrough to add about $30 million more than originally estimated. I predicted that the film would open at an outstanding $75 million, so it was a shock to me when it ended up grossing $94 million in three days, which is an all-time high for a movie opening in August. The cosmic comic book movie's opening weekend numbers proves that Marvel can just about sell anything to the general public, even a movie that features a talking raccoon and a walking tree. It also proves that the real star of Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't Chris Pratt nor Zoe Saldana, but rather Marvel Studios itself.
With its success, Marvel launched a new franchise to add to its roster and something fresh and exciting to sell. Marvel and Disney are doing something right when you compare Guardians of the Galaxy opening weekend box office to already-established comic book film franchises like The Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men.
When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened back in May, it earned a disappointing $91 million when its movie studio Sony was projecting a $100 million opening. The following week, Spidey's numbers dropped a staggering 61% with only $35 million. In fact, it failed to come in first place two weeks in a row, bowing down to Universal's surprise hit Neighbors with $49 million. Neighbors! A rated-R comedy starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne. A movie that appeals to adult sensibilities beat out a comic book movie that should've appealed to everyone. It was clear that The Amazing Spider-Man franchise was in big trouble with Sony pushing The Amazing Spider-Man 3 from 2016 to 2018 and moving forward with the Sinister Six villains-centric movie.
Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past was also unexpected, but slightly in the other direction. It opened with $90 million, about $1 million shy of The Amazing Spider-Man sequel, but the difference is that film critics and general audiences seemed to like the X-Men variety of Marvel from Fox than The Amazing Spider-Man offerings from Sony. [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942) ended it's four-day Labor Day weekend with $110 million and only dropped 64% comparatively from that number with $32 million. While The Amazing Spider-Man fared a little but better than Days of Future Past, Fox is pushing forward with its franchise with X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016, while Sony is going back to the drawing board for 2018. After all, it seemed that Sony spent more in prints and advertising than Fox did with Days of Future Past (although admittedly these numbers seem soft with the data available).
Overall, [The Amazing Spider-Man 2](movie:508593) finished its box office run barely scraping towards $700 million with $708 million, while X-Men: Days of Future Past leaped forward with a respectable $741 million.
So what does Guardians of the Galaxy's success say about Marvel Studios? It says that the comic book movie studio could just sit back and print money! It's pretty clear that audiences didn't go see Guardians of the Galaxy based on its star-power, and character and brand recognition. I mean, it seems that [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) was an obscure property for even the most hardcore comic book fan.
People showed up to the theater this weekend and plunked down $9 (or how ever much it cost in your city. In New York City, where I'm from, movie tickets range from $14 to $25) to watch the new Marvel movie period. Marvel is like Pixar in that respect. People showed up to watch Pixar movies during their Golden Age because they knew they were going to get something original, entertaining, touching, and for the whole family. That's precisely why people go to Marvel movies these days. It didn't matter that watching Guardians of the Galaxy was a true transporting science fiction experience, that's just the cherry on top for Marvel Studios. For all of those reasons I just mentioned plus the added bonus that all of these movies fit together in a larger shared cinematic universe. Now that's something Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros and DC cannot claim for any of their film franchises.
So buck up naysayers, Marvel Studios is here to stay and they can now sell you on just about any adventure from their deep bench of characters and stories, such as Doctor Strange, Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, and the Inhumans and Runaways. Get ready kids!!