‘Guardians’ to get one up on James Brown

ScreenerBlog

Guardians of the Galaxy has a fair shot at setting an August opening weekend record, so the pundits say. The latest film from Marvel opens in 4,080 theatres today, which is, actually, already a record – no August release has ever bowed in so many locations before. That the movie will open at No. 1 is a foregone conclusion; pundits are less sure just how much it will rake in.

 

On the one hand, there’s the high precedent set by those Marvel films released since The Avengers managed its boffo returns in 2012. Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier all opened to $85 million or more. However, each of those films already had a built-in following not only from the comic books on which they’re based, but, as each of the titles are sequels, from the first films in their respective franchises. Additionally, the individual characters populating Guardians of the Galaxy are significantly less well-known than standalone superheroes Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Disney does, however, seem to understand popular unfamiliarity is a hurdle in need of some savvy surmounting; thus, much of the film’s marketing has focused on introducing the five guardians and playing up their individual personalities. Playing up the jokes as well: The film’s tongue-in-cheek humor has figured prominently in trailers. Many believe Guardians should open in line with the first Captain America and Thor, and rake in around $65 million.

Others say that’s a conservative estimate. This camp is using data from Fandango to support its claim: Guardians is the company’s biggest August pre-seller ever, and is currently out-tracking the aforementioned Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor. If the numbers bear out, Guardians of the Galaxy could best The Bourne Ultimatum’s $69.3 million opening to set a new August record. Given advance buzz and favorable reviews (91 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), this seems likely.

James Brown biopic Get On Up is the other new major release bowing today, although it probably won’t secure the No. 2 spot behind Guardians. Second-place standing will instead likely go to last week’s No. 1, Lucy. Biopics don’t normally enjoy big opening weekends: The genre’s notable successes include Ray ($20 million) and Walk the Line ($22.3 million), both of which had awards-season buzz working in their favor. Get On Up distributor Universal is predicting returns in the low teens.

Finally, the specialty box office welcomes the latest from John Michael McDonagh, Calvary, starring McDonagh favorite (of John Michael as well his brother, In Bruges director Martin) Brendan Gleeson. Calvary screens in four theatres, while A Most Wanted Man expands to 727 locations today.