Box Office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Wins Labor Day, Closes Out Troubled Summer


Labor Day offerings 'As Above, So Below' and Pierce Brosnan's 'November Man' place No. 5 and No. 6

Closing out the troubled summer at the North American box office, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy easily ruled the Labor Day holiday, earning a victorious $22.2 million in its fifth weekend for domestic total of $280 million. It will even break the curse that has plagued other summer tentpoles and hit $300 million domestically.

Globally, the Marvel Studios and Disney event pic has earned $553.6 million.

New Labor Day weekend entries As Above, So Below and The November Man did only modest business, coming in No. 5 and No. 6 behind Guardians, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, If I Stay and R-rated comedy Let's Be Cops with $10.3 million and $10.2 million, respectively. November Man, opening Wednesday, did a total $11.9 million in its six-day debut.

Hollywood is more than ready to say goodbye to one of the most disappointing summers in memory, although some prospered, such as Disney and market-leader Fox.

North American revenue for the season came in at an estimated $4.05 billion, marking an eight-year low and, when accounting for inflation, a 17-year low. And revenue is down 15 percent from last year's record haul of $4.75 billion, the biggest year-over-year decline that anyone can remember. Even Labor Day, never a big moviegoing holiday, was down more than 14 percent from last year. Summer attendance was also down by more than 5 percent.

Guardians has been one of the summer's few bright spots and is now the top-grossing film of 2014 to date domestically, eclipsing the $259.8 million earned by fellow Marvel and Disney tentpole Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And international returns remain strong, helping to make up for the gap for many films.

From Legendary Entertainment, As Above, So Below skewed notably younger, with 65 percent of the audience under the age of 25. The audience was split evenly in terms of gender.

The psychological thriller cost a mere $5 million to make, and follows a group of explorers who discover dark forces when they dive into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris. Universal is releasing the film, which targeted younger consumers with an aggressive digital campaign.

From director Roger Donaldson, The November Man follows an ex-CIA agent (Brosnan) who is brought back for one more mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil. The movie, returning Brosnan in a James Bond-like role, skewed notably older, with 85 percent of ticket buyers over the age of 25.

The $20 million-plus movie was made and financed by The Solution Entertainment Group, Palmstar Media Capital and Merced Media Partners. Olga Kurylenko and Luke Bracey also star in November Man, which Relativity acquired for $3 million.

Poor reviews likely November Man, although audiences liked it better, giving it a B+ CinemaScore. As Above, So Below earned a withering C- CinemaScore.

For the nostalgic set, Sony celebrated the 30th anniversary of Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters by releasing the classic supernatural comedy in 784 theaters before the anniversary edition comes out on Blu-ray.

Among more limited releases, Spanish-language venture Pantelion and Lionsgate launched biopic Cantinflas in 382 locations to a pleasing $3.3 million. The movie stars Oscar Jaenda as Cantinflas, Mexico's greatest and most beloved comedy star of all time. Cantinflas opens in Mexico in September.

Cantinflas earned an A CinemaScore, and Pantelion is hoping it becomes nearly as successful as Instructions Not Included, the top grossing Spanish-language film of all time in North America. Among indie films, Jon Favreau's Chef crossed the $30 million mark at the domestic box office as it re-expanded nationwide, cooking up a sweet victory for the filmmaker and Open Road Films.

John Carney's Begin Again also took advantage of the Labor Day holiday to once again expand. The Weinstein Co. grossed $1.1 million for the four-day holiday for a domestic total of $15.6 million.

Here are the estimated top 10 films for the four-day Labor Day weekend at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Change, Cume

1. Guardians of the Galaxy, 5/3,462, Disney/Marvel, $22.2 million, +29%, $280.5 million

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 4/3,543, Paramount, $15.7 million, -6%, $166.4 million

3. If I Stay, 2/3,003, Warner Bros./New Line/MGM, $111.6 million, -26%, $32.2 million

4. Let's Be Cops, 3/3,010, 20th Century Fox, $10.6 million, -2%, $59.7 million

5. As Above, So Below, 1/2,640, Universal/Legendary, $10.3 million

6. The November Man, 1/2,772, Relativity, $10.2 million, $11.9 million

7. When the Game Stands Tall, 2/2,673, Sony, $8 million, -5%, $18.7 million

8. The Giver, 3/2,805, The Weinstein Co./Walden, $6.3 million, +7%, $33.2 million

9. The Hundred-Foot Journey, 4/1,918, Disney/DreamWorks, $6.3 million, +19%, $41.1 million

10. The Expendables 3, 3/2,564, Lionsgate/Millennium, $4.6 million, -30%, $34.2 million

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

Sept. 1, 7:30 a.m. Updated with four-day Labor Day weekend numbers.