What would the disappointing 2014 be without Marvel? After weekend figures come in, "Guardians of the Galaxy" joins the six films to open over $90 million this year -- four of which come from Marvel.
In a summer where none of the new releases will rank among the top 25 openers of all time -- even using raw numbers, all years between 2004 and 2013 provided at least one -- Marvel has made the difference between a weak summer and a disastrous one.
"Guardians" grossed $37.8 million (including a year-best Thursday figure of over $11 million), making it the third best initial figure of 2014 (behind "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and "Godzilla"). More significantly, it is performing initially on a par with more established recent Marvel franchises over the last two years, even though this is the start of a series rather than a sequel or reboot. And, unusually, it comes in August, when studios typically position lesser openers.
The great "Guardians" number brought the total for the Top 10 to $60 million, a big jump over $38 million last year. But it masks a continuing weakness the rest of the way, with mostly mediocre numbers for the remaining top nine. Below the top gross, these films came in with $22 million, down from $28 million for the same nine in 2013.
The week's other new wide release, "Get On Up" (Universal) managed to place third for the day with $5 million, lagging behind last year's "42" (also starring Chadwick Boseman) and 2005's "Ray" among African-American biopics. The film, which features one of the most acclaimed lead performances of the year, is going to need strong word of mouth to sustain any sort of attention ahead.
At number two, "Lucy" (also Universal), last weekend's number one opener at $17.1 million, fell sharply to $5.5 million -- (second week drops being one of the ongoing stories of the summer). Similarly, "Hercules," in fourth place, with $3.151 million, saw a huge drop from its $11.1 last Friday.
The rest of the holdovers at least managed to fall less than 50-percent. Number five, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (20th Century Fox), did $2.4 million to continue its solid run, with numbers six and seven "The Purge: Anarchy" (Universal) and "Planes: Fire and Rescue" (Buena Vista) both grossing about $1.8 million. "Sex Tape" (Sony) placed eighth with $1.1 million.
Two films targeted for older audiences round out the Top 10. Rob Reiner's "And So It Goes" (Clarius) fell only about a third from its so-so opening with $930,000, while number 10 "A Most Wanted Man" (Roadside Attractions) landed an estimated $840,000 as its theater count was doubled to 729.