Top Film Industry Stories of 2014 #2:
Consider the Galaxy Sufficiently Guarded
By Kim Hollis
January 9, 2015
Before Guardians was released, Disney turned their marketing machine up to 11 and used synergistic resources from ESPN to Marvel’s Agents of Shield to the end credits in Thor: The Dark World to promote the film’s release. Most important, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, carefully oversees each project to ensure that their films fit within the universe they have cultivated. As much as any movie in Marvel’s recent franchise history, Guardians succeeded, receiving universal acclaim from both critics and audiences alike.
The excitement and energy surrounding the film enabled it to debut with an August record-breaking $94.3 million on August 1, 2014. In case you’re wondering, this total is not even a million dollars less than the already established Captain America sequel earned earlier in the year. It’s only $4 million less than the original Iron Man earned on its opening weekend, and that was considered a huge breakthrough. For a film the Motley Fool was scoffing at only six months earlier, this achievement borders on legendary.
Of course, Guardians wasn’t finished there. Although it dropped somewhat precipitously in its second frame when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted, from that point on, it was a smooth ride to profitability. By the time Guardians of the Galaxy finished its run in North America, it had earned a massive $333 million. This was $74 million more than Captain America: The Winter Soldier earned domestically, $3 million less than Iron Man 2 earned domestically, and a whopping $127 million more than Thor: The Dark World earned in North America. Kevin Feige, Bob Iger and every other studio head involved in the project was probably happily dancing along with Star-Lord as the cash came rolling in. The naysayers who thought a $170 million budget was excessive quickly changed their tune to one of praise.
Of course, Guardians was even bigger overseas. Foreign audiences love them some action, and apparently if it involves talking raccoons and trees, so much the better. The film earned nearly $440 million from international venues, giving it a worldwide total approaching $775 million. And let’s not forget that Disney and Marvel have mastered the art of merchandising. Kids were clamoring for Star-Lord action figures, and dancing baby Groot was one of the hottest collectible items of the 2014 holiday season. Ancillary revenues, including home video, would make Guardians of the Galaxy one of their strongest brands in only a matter of months.
Other than Disney, the biggest beneficiaries of the success of the Marvel project are the Guardians themselves. Chris Pratt (aka Star-Lord) was a funny, under-appreciated performer who had a niche following thanks to great roles in Everwood and Parks and Recreation. Now, he’s a Harrison Ford for a new generation and becomes one of Hollywood’s hottest stars. He’ll appear in the upcoming Jurassic Park film, and looks to have a chance to steal it right out from under the dinosaurs. Of course, he was also the voice of Emmet in 2014’s The LEGO Movie, a massive hit in its own right. In fact, I’m starting to wonder why “Chris Pratt’s Big Year” wasn’t one of our top film industry stories
For the other Guardians, it may be wrestler Dave Bautista who will enjoy the most surprising success. A mainstay in the WWE, the fact that his surprisingly sensitive Drax the Destroyer struck such a chord will open the door for him to appear in other projects moving forward. He’ll start with Spectre, the next film in the James Bond franchise. If you’ve gotta play a henchman, at least play one in one of the biggest and most popular series going, right?
And of course, director James Gunn graduated from Troma films, Scooby-Doo and the horror movie Slither to helm a ridiculously popular project, and the success truly rests on the fact that he was able to make the movie so fun for all ages. Like Joss Whedon directing The Avengers before him, it’s nice to see a cult favorite make it big.
Naturally, Guardians is slated to have a sequel to be released in 2017, meaning that Star-Lord and friends will have another big summer in just a couple of years. With this movie almost performing as a new Star Wars for the youth set, it’s fair to say that a second movie stands to be absolutely massive. It’s nice when it happens to some of the good guys.