Whether or not Disney and Marvel Studios saw Guardians of the Galaxy’s record-breaking success coming, their decision to announce Guardians of the Galaxy 2 before its predecessor even hit theaters looks like a genius one now. With all the focus in recent weeks being placed on what’s coming next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe years into the future, we can’t forget what’s sill in theaters right now.

Put aside theories and reports about Captain America 3Doctor StrangeThe Avengers 3, etc. for a moment and let’s talk about Marvel’s first foray into the cosmos – as directed by James Gunn (who will return for the sequel).

Guardians of the Galaxy opened at the beginning of August, a traditionally less lucrative month for tentpole films. The lack of blockbuster competitors in the month actually worked in Marvel’s favor and Guardians launched to the largest August opening weekend of all-time. The real story is how long it held strong, dropping to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the following weekend but jumping back to the top slot for several consecutive weeks after.

It held onto that momentum in large part to positive reviews and word-of-mouth to become the third biggest Marvel movie ever in the U.S. (and biggest of the year) and the most successful Marvel franchise starter. Two months later and GOTG finally opened in China last week to become the country’s largest October opening of all-time and in the U.S., 11 weeks in, the film is still outperforming The Avengers and The Dark Knight, along with all of the Spider-Man and X-Men movies.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Blu ray 3D Combo Pack 570x684 Guardians of the Galaxy Hits More Box Office Milestones

GOTG 3D Combo Pack

The Guardians of the Galaxy home video release will hit just in time for the holiday season on December 9th and an animated series is on the way for next year. With all of that in mind, it’s not really surprising at this point to see the film cross the $700 million mark at the worldwide box office. Captain America: The Winter Soldier also hit that milestone with an equally impressive success story earlier this year where it also set records opening in early April. Both release date tests proved to Marvel that they don’t need to open movies during the summer or fall seasons, and that they can potentially expand their production capacity to three or four movies a year – which they are doing beginning in 2017.

Next up for GOTG hitting more theaters, according to James Gunn’s Facebook, is Italy!

More: Characters We Want In Guardians of the Galaxy Sequels

Guardians of the Galaxy is directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!

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