After an entire month where the box office was down from last year, things picked up in the first weekend of August as Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures released James Gunn's take on Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillen and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, which set a new August opening record with an estimated $94 million from 4,080 theaters.
Capitalizing on solid reviews (91% on Rotten Tomatoes) and an "A" CinemaScore, "Guardians" built on its $37.8 million opening day to achieve the third-biggest opening of the year, averaging $23,000 per location. "Guardians'" estimated opening puts it just behind Marvel Studios' earlier 2014 release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but puts it ahead of the latest installment of other long-running superhero franchises, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The previous August record of $69 million was held by Universal Pictures' The Bourne Ultimatum back in 2007, which itself beat Rush Hour 2's $67.4 million from 2001. The point is that there have not been a lot of big movies opened in the first weekend of August in a number of years and "Guardians" perfectly capitalized on Marvel and Disney's solid record with moviegoers to set what may be an unbeatable August opening record.
3D accounted for 45% of the movie's opening weekend with males over 26 making up the largest portion of the audience. The movie grossed $11.7 million on 354 IMAX screens, besting the previous August IMAX record set by last year's Elysium.
Overseas, "Guardians" took in $66.4 million with $13 million coming from Russia, $10.8 million from the UK and $6.5 million from Mexico. It made $5.3 million from its release on 157 international IMAX screens for a global weekend haul of $17 million, also a new August record for IMAX.
Luc Besson's sci-fi action thriller Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, dropped significantly in its second weekend, taking second place with $18.3 million, which is down 58% from its opening weekend. It has grossed $79.3 million domestically.
The James Brown biopic Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, directed by The Help's Tate Taylor, opened in 2,468 theaters with a somewhat disappointing $14 million--$5,685 per theater--to open in third place.
Dwayne Johnson's turn as the mythological hero Hercules (Paramount/MGM) in director Brett Ratner's action flick dropped to fourth place with $10.7 million, down a whopping 64% from its opening weekend, as its domestic gross reached $52.3 million.
The hit sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox) wrapped up its first month in theaters with $189 million, adding another $8.7 million this weekend to take fifth place.
Walt Disney Pictures' animated sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue took sixth place with $6.4 million and $47.6 million total--still below its reported $50 million production budget.
Universal's low-budget thriller The Purge: Anarchy took seventh place with $5.6 million and a $62.9 million domestic gross. After three weeks, it's close to surpassing the $64.5 million grossed by the original movie despite the sequel opening softer.
Eighth place went to the Cameron Diaz-Jason Segel sex comedy Sex Tape (Sony) with $3.5 million and a disappointing $33.9 million total when compared to the duo's previous comedy Bad Teacher, which made nearly that amount opening weekend.
The Michael Douglas-Diane Keaton comedy And So It Goes (Clarius) took ninth place with $3.3 million, down just 28% from its opening weekend, with $10.5 million grossed in its first ten days.
After opening in the Top 10 last week, the John LeCarre adaptation A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, doubled its theaters to 729 and retained tenth place with $3.3 million.
The Top 10 took in an estimated $167 million, which for the first time in a month, was up from the same weekend last year when weaker releases like the Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg action comedy 2 Guns (Universal) topped the box office with just $27 million and Sony's sequel The Smurfs 2 disappointed with an opening of $17.5 million for third place.
Richard Linklater's critically-acclaimed slice-of-life drama Boyhood (IFC Films) expanded into 311 theaters on Friday where it grossed $2.5 million, allowing it to break into the Top 12 at #11. Having grossed $7.6 million in limited release, Linklater's long-running pet project is destined to become IFC Films' second-highest grossing release ever, especially if they continue to expand it across the country.
While Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount) has fallen out of the Top 10, the $241.2 million it has grossed domestically since opening in late June makes it the third-highest grossing movie of the year. It has also earned $763.8 million overseas allowing it to surpass the $1 billion mark worldwide. Here's the top 10 films y'all:
1 Guardians of the Galaxy Walt Disney Pictures
12 Lucy Universal Pictures
23 Get on Up Universal Pictures
14 Hercules MGM, Paramount Pictures
25 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 20th Century Fox
46 Planes: Fire & Rescue Walt Disney Pictures
37 The Purge: Anarchy Universal Pictures
38 Sex Tape Columbia Pictures (Sony)
39 And So It Goes Clarius
210 A Most Wanted Man Roadside Attractions (Lionsgate)