In hindsight it seems like such an obvious project for Marvel Studios to invest in but when they began development on Guardians of the Galaxy, it really wasn't. Even after spending an estimated $170 million on its production budget and who knows how much on marketing, there was still some justifiable uncertainty from Marvel on how successful Guardians could be. That's why, despite early positive buzz and the general need for a sequel for Marvel's long-form storytelling purposes (see: Infinity War), that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was initially scheduled for July 2017.
Because of the record-breaking success of GOTG in the unusual month of August though, and the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy earned more at the box office worldwide than any other comic book movie of the year, beating out Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past, its sequel was moved up. Now, Guardians of the Galaxy sits as Marvel's flagship tentpole release of 2017 and will kick the summer off in May of that year.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a more lucrative property with more lucrative merchandising opportunities than Thor so it's taking Thor: Ragnarok's place in leading the summer of 2017. In fact, Guardians is not only the biggest domestic release of 2014 so far, but this weekend it just became the second biggest worldwide with a total sum of $765 million, beating out Disney's Maleficent and sitting only behind Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Of course, this milestone won't hold through the end of the year. With Interstellar on the way, it has a strong chance to challenge that record given the success of director Chritopher Nolan's recent epics (Inception made over $825 million and the last two Batman features hit over a billion), and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies are practically guaranteed to top that number as well. Still, for an otherworldly property unknown to mainstream consumers and casual moviegoers pre-release, and starring a non-A-list actor (at the time of casting) in Chris Pratt, alongside a talking raccoon and a talking tree, it's easy to see the initial risks associated with such a feature.
But it paid off and launched Marvel's new hot franchise to run alongside The Avengers series. It also gave Marvel Studios the confidence to boost production to three features per year beginning in 2017 and to give other alien-esque properties a shot, including Captain Marvel and Inhumans. With the Guardians of the Galaxy home video release hitting retail just in time for the holiday season on December 9th, it's only going to make more.
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.
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