In its fourth weekend, Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY returned to the top of the U.S. box office. While besting newcomers IF IT STAY and SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR, Marvel Studios’ tenth feature brought in $17.3 million over the weekend, raising its domestic total to $251.5 million, the best of any film released this summer. Within the next week, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY will surpass Marvel’s own CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER ($259.8 million) to become the highest grossing film of the year domestically.
The success of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is not restricted to U.S. borders. The film has not opened in some major markets like China and Japan yet, but has still amassed $237.6 million for a worldwide total of $489.1 million. GUARDIANS now only trails IRON MAN as Marvel’s best franchise debut film (not counting THE AVENGERS since that was really an inter-franchise sequel). GUARDIANS is not far off of IRON MAN’s pace, so it is possible for director James Gunn’s space epic to catch those $318.4 million domestic and $585.2 million worldwide totals.
Regardless of where GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ends up when it leaves theaters, it is safe to say the film is already a massive success for Disney and Marvel Studios. Loved by critics and audiences, GUARDIANS is a testament to the strength and reliability of the Marvel brand. In a market where most moviegoers are only backing the names they know, this kind of branding power is going to be invaluable in the future. That Marvel was able to reward consumers’ faith with something as obscure, but great as GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY bodes well for ANT-MAN in 2015 and a potential INHUMANS film later on down the line.