Benicio del Toro Source

The quirky superhero tentpole easily rockets to the top August debut of all time in North America, as well as scoring the third-best launch of the year so far; overseas, it earns $67.4 million for a global opening of $161.7 million.

Rousing the ailing summer box office to life, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy opened to a record-breaking $94.3 million in North America, the top August debut of all time and besting every other summer tentpole save for Transformers: Age of Extinction in another sizeable victory for Marvel Studios.

Final numbers released Monday morning show Guardians coming in slightly ahead of Sunday’s estimate ($94 million). Overseas, it also exceeded estimates, earning $67.4 million (Sunday’s projection was $66.4 million) for a worldwide debut of $161.7 million. The 3D movie opened No. 1 in its first 42 markets, and saw big numbers in Russia ($13 million), the U.K. ($10.8 million), Mexico ($6.5 million) and Brazil ($5.4 million).

The Marvel and Disney tentpole did far more business than expected after receiving glowing reviews for its originality and an A CinemaScore from audiences. The movie, launching only the second in-house Marvel franchise after the Avengers series, received the widest release ever for an August title (4,080 theaters), and easily surpassed the debut of previous August record-holder, The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.3 million).
“Having a great movie that’s original is such a rare thing anymore. This film and its reception around the world proves Marvel can break new ground with unique characters,” said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis, giving a shout-out to Alan Fine, head of Marvel’s creative committee.

Guardians secured the best showing of the year so far for an original property, as well as coming in ahead of high-profile summer franchise installments Godzilla ($93.2 million), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($91.6 million) and X-Men: Days of Future Past ($90.8 million). And it’s the third best debut of the year so far after Age of Extinction ($100 million) and fellow Marvel movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million).

Featuring a rag-tag group of unlikely galactic heroes, Guardians stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace and Bradley Cooper, who voices the role of Rocket the raccoon. Vin Diesel, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro also star.

Guardians wasn’t a cheap proposition and cost $170 million to produce. That doesn’t include Disney and Marvel’s pricey and well-waged marketing campaign.

Hype around Guardians has been so high that Marvel and Disney have already announced plans for a July 28, 2017 sequel, with Gunn returning to direct.

The movie’s tone is much different than the Avengers franchise, and is laced with humor. “It’s much more of a space opera than a superhero movie,” Gunn said in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

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