Even after I’d seen the 20-minute Guardians of the Galaxy preview — and been totally won over by it — I was still worried that mainstream audiences wouldn’t give it a chance. The closer we got to release, the more positive buzz it built up online, but that’s not always a guarantee of box office success. After all, this was a weird movie, an unapologetic space opera full of talking trees and raccoons in an era where “science fiction movies” usually just meant depressing post-apocalyptic tales. Well, Marvel has spent the past month wiping the smug grin off the face of every last naysayer, and now Guardians has passed its most impressive milestone yet: it is now the highest grossing movie of the year at the domestic box office.
Earlier this week Guardians sailed past the former #1 and #2 domestic box office earners, Captain America; The Winter Soldier and The Lego Movie, respectively. Guardians’ domestic numbers are currently sitting at $274 million, easily surpassing Cap’s $259 million and The Lego Movie’s $257 million. When you factor in overseas box office, Guardians’ take swells to a staggering $547 million, which is pretty damned impressive for a movie about a bunch of obscure comic characters most people had never even heard of a year ago.
So how’s it stack up next to the other Marvel films that led up to it? It’s well ahead of Thor: The Dark World’s domestic total of $206 million, and it’s got a long way to go to catch up to Iron Man 3’s $409 million. But I think we can all agree that there’s no shame in losing to Robert Downey Jr. Especially when he says your movie is the best of Marvel’s bunch.
Crushing the domestic box office record for 2014 is just the latest in a string of impressive achievements for Guardians. First it was the biggest August opening of all time. Then it flipped Transformers: Age of Extinction the bird as it surpassed that flick’s 10-day box office record. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles managed to steal back the number-one slot for its opening weekend, but that didn’t last, and Guardians soon retook the number-one slot. Hell, Guardians is expected to do another $16 million over the holiday weekend, a full month after its August 1 opening, and some are predicting it will surpass the $320 million mark domestically before the year is over.
Director James Gunn has been effusive with thanks on social media as Guardians has continued its ascent, and he took to Facebook to share his thoughts after the movie broke this latest record:
To quote my favorite little monstrosity, ‘Oh… Yeah.’
And although io9 may be right, that people like the movie because it’s funny, I like to believe it’s because WE GAVE A SHIT. You aren’t numbers to us. You deserve to be given something we the creators believe in and that isn’t just seeking a big opening weekend. I love my characters, I care about the quality of the movie, and Marvel was cool enough to let us take some risks. Hopefully, THAT’S the lesson — that we’ll see more spectacle movies coming out of Hollywood that the filmmakers actually believe in, and that take risks, NOT just a bunch of superhero or space movies trying to be funny.
From your lips to DC’s ears, James…