Box office preview: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' aims for a cosmic debut

Chris-Pratt-Body

Image Credit: Marvel

The motley crew of rebels and mercenaries in Guardians of the Galaxy make their theatrical debut this weekend, and all signs point to a stellar opening. They might not be the most popular or well-known Marvel characters, but strong reviews and an even stronger marketing campaign have helped to drum up interest for these unlikely superheroes, which include an earthling (Chris Pratt), a talking raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and a tree (Vin Diesel). As the widest August release in history with a 4,080 screen launch, Guardians is tracking at $65 million, but many analysts think that it has the potential to earn much more.

The James Brown biopic Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, opens in 2,466 theaters this weekend, providing some much-needed alternative programming in this summer of superheroes and sequels.

Here’s how things might play out.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy $75 million
The James Gunn-directed pic takes Marvel to outer space in this action-packed tale of a group of misfits who find themselves in possession of a powerful orb and on the run from a baddie who wants it. With a reported $170 million production budget, this newest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is tracking in the $65 million range. But as mentioned above, it’s very, very likely that it’ll easily surpass that number, thanks in part to the positive buzz and Thursday night and 3-D showings. According to Fandango, as of Thursday, Guardians was the top-selling “original” (non-sequel or remake) pic of the year and the biggest August pre-seller in their history. This is only one indicator of ticket sales, but outselling Godzilla, The Lego Movie, Maleficent, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at the same point in the sales cycle is nothing to scoff at and could point to an even higher first weekend gross. Fandango also reports that 63 percent of surveyed ticket-buyers plan to take their kids to see the PG-13 rated pic, and 55 percent plan to see it more than once. Critics seem over the moon about Guardians, too, with an 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- from EW‘s Chris Nashawaty.

2. Lucy  $20 million
After exceeding opening weekend expectations and surpassing its $40 million production budget, Luc Besson’s Lucy will definitely cede its first place title and will likely fall in the 50 percent range thanks to a lousy C+ Cinema Score.

3. Get On Up — $15 million
The Help‘s Tate Taylor directed the James Brown biopic, starring 42‘s Chadwick Boseman in the epic tale of the singer’s tumultuous life, from childhood to old age. Universal Pictures is releasing the movie in 2,466 theaters Friday, and plans an international roll-out in late September. Boasting a noteworthy ensemble cast, including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Dan Aykroyd, Get On Up might not be in the same earnings league as Guardians, but the $30 million pic should do modest business this weekend and hold fairly well since it will likely appeal to an older demographic. Reviews on the whole are very positive with a solid 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. EW‘s Chris Nashawaty gave it a B-, writing that the PG-13 rated pic “too often plays it safe when it needs to be dangerous.”

4. Hercules — $13 million
The week two drop-off will probably be pretty big for the $100 million Dwayne Johnson-starrer. But, international is the focus here: Brett Ratner’s swords-and-sandals pic has made over $68 million worldwide to date.

5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes $8 million
Apes will likely round out the top five, falling another 50 percent. The $170 million Fox tentpole has made over $369.2 million worldwide as it enters its fourth weekend.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight is releasing the dark Irish dramady Calvary in four theaters, and James Franco’s Cormac McCarthy adaptation Child of God also opens.

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