Marvel may have demonstrated a sure touch when it comes to exploiting its Avengers universe of superheroes, but how would it fare withGuardians of the Galaxy, a comic book that had hitherto left only a modest footprint, populated by unlikely characters including a talking tree? The film represented a test for the Disney-owned studio, both creatively and as regards the commercial parameters of the Marvel brand. The numbers go above and beyond industry hopes and expectations. Arriving on 31 July, Guardians of the Galaxy was seen to be hitting cinemas on one of the summer’s less-desirable dates, with fewer weeks of playtime before kids return to school. (Last year, for example, The Smurfs 2 was the top new release on the equivalent weekend.) In other words, the film was not expected to compete at the level of Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past (which landed in May) or Transformers: Age of Extinction and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes(mid-July).
The result: £6.36m, including £1.37m in Thursday previews. The Friday-to-Sunday tally, just shy of £5m, ranks behind the equivalents for Apes (£7.10m), X-Men (£7.55m) and Godzilla (£5.20m), but is ahead of every other film opening since the start of May. It’s also ahead of the previous Marvel release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which kicked off in April with £6.04m including £1.85m in previews. Guardians has also opened bigger than Marvel’s Iron Man (£5.47m including £667,000 in previews), Thor (£5.45m including £2.34m in previews) and Captain America: The First Avenger (£2.98m). Since it is not a sequel, its box-office may be presumed to be relatively less front-loaded, so it should enjoy a decent sustain. Time will tell.