The Marvel hot-streak marches on
It seems not even an openly-bizarre set of characters, a lack of major (onscreen) stars and the absence of any Marvel heroes remotely recognizable to mainstream audiences can dampen moviegoers ongoing enthusiasm for the Marvel Cinematic Universe; as their offbeat sci-fi action/comedy Guardians of The Galaxy has exploded analysts' expectations with a huge $36 million+ estimated Friday box-office take (with some projecting that the total could climb as high as $38 million when all sales are counted.)
That total includes $11.2 million earned from Thursday night preview screenings - the most taken at such previews by any film in 2014 thus far. A $92 - $96 million weekend total is now projected, with some positing that $100 million is within the realm of possibility given enthusiastic audience reactions and overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. It's also likely that the film benefited from a near-total lack of new competition (only the James Brown biopic Get On Up was also released wide) and a 4,000+ screen commitment breaking another August record.
While it's all-but certain that Marvel now has another profitable franchise (a sequel was already greenlit a week before it opened) and a new superstar in Chris Pratt ("Star Lord"), the film's long-term box-office could well be impacted by the debut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the disaster film Into The Storm next week. TMNT has been tracking soft given its franchise pedigree (under $40 million) but could experience an unexpected boost from younger fans of the most recent animated incarnation on TV.