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James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy has become the top August pre-seller in Fandango history, easily outpacing The Bourne Ultimatum, which debuted to a record-breaking $69.2 million in 2007.
Galaxy, which begins rolling out in theaters Thursday night, would appear to have a shot at crossing $70 million in its North American debut and stealing the crown from Bourne Ultimatum to score the top August debut of all time, although pre-release tracking services have the tentpole at $65 million.
Fandango reports that Guardians, from Marvel Studios and Disney, is also the year’s top pre-seller for a non-sequel, besting The Lego Movie, which debuted to $69.1 million in February.
To boot, Fandango says Guardians is outpacing Marvel’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, which opened to $65.7 million and $65.1 million, respectively.
Guardians, starring a ragtag group of unlikely galactic heroes, is the first in-house title from Marvel that isn’t part of the Avengers universe and 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.
The film’s tone is vastly 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.
Hype around the movie has been so high that Marvel and Disney have already announced plans for a July 28, 2017, sequel, with Gunn returning to direct.
Guardians should help stem the decline at the North American box office, where summer revenue is down more than 20 percent, one of the steepest dips ever recorded. The critically acclaimed tentpole will unspool in more than 4,080 theaters, the widest August release ever (G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra played on 4,007).
The 3D tentpole is opening in a raft of international markets this weekend as well, including the U.K., Russia, Mexico and Brazil. It has been tentatively approved to play in China, but no date has been set.
Guardians wasn’t a cheap proposition and cost $170 million to produce.
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