World Box Office July 28-August 3

by HFPA August 3, 2014

No corner of the universe is safe from entertainment after Guardians of the Galaxy rocketed into theaters with an astonishing $94 million domestic debut. The wild success of Disney and Marvel’s big budget action-comedy was little accident. A brilliant PR campaign that made no secret of the property’s relative anonymity primed audiences for a robust turnout on its Thursday opening. From there, a word of mouth wildfire pushed interest into the heart of every major demographic. It earned A and A+ Cinemascores in all of the established age ranges, though its core audience was the omnipresent “males under 34”. Much of the film’s earnings were due to the roughly 25 percent price difference between 3D and 2D engagements as fully 45% of audiences went for the premium format.

Guardians was also a hit internationally, nabbing $66.4 million from 42 markets over the weekend. It finished first in each of these save for Korea, where it played second fiddle to local pic Roaring Currents. Russia, which proved once again that despite the borderline bellicose posturing between the two nations its citizens have no qualms with American cultural fare, was Galaxy’s biggest foreign territory at $13 million. The UK handed over $10.8 million, while Mexico gave Disney and Marvel Studios $6.5 million and Brazil $4.5 million. Korea, the only blemish on the space-opera’s perfect record, was still good for $4.7 million. This means that Guardians of the Galaxy enjoyed a rather spectacular $166 million global cumulative in its opening run.

The Godfather of Soul bowed to no man in his long and storied life, yet this weekend’s debuting James Brown biopic Get on Up finished well behind Marvel’s latest iteration of its winning superhero formula, with just $14 million coming from its domestic opening. Unsurprisingly the film played 70% African American, though it may have lost a chunk of black moviegoers to the charms of Djimon Hounsou and Zoe Saldana in Guardians. The picture, starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by The Help’s Tate Taylor, was produced in part by a close friend of Brown’s, none other than Mick Jagger. It opened in a comparable time of year to The Help and The Butler, two recent African American fueled movies that made $26 million and $24 million on their respective debuts, although Get on Up fell short of those numbers. Part of this will be due to the fact that despite record international numbers, the US box office as a whole is down roughly 20% from this time last year. This film has yet to open in any overseas territories. With the global love and respect for James Brown’s music, it will surely see an adequate return from its campaigns abroad.

Lucy, the Scarlett Johansson helmed sci-fi drama from director Luc Besson, came in second in North America with a decent $18.2 million take. Overseas the picture fared well as it began its foreign run with a very decent $4.4 million first place opening in Australia. Its full international release won’t be through until mid-September, with Universal surrendering distribution rights in Belgium, Holland, China, Hong Kong, and Besson’s home turf in France to his production company EuropaCorp.

Silver in the foreign arena belonged to Dawn of the Planet of The Apes. The Fox production enjoyed another positive outing abroad, earning $47.5 million from 71 territories. Bronze went to a film that simply won’t quit its steady stream of top-five finishes abroad. How to Train Your Dragon 2 closed the weekend at an even $20 million. Transformers: Age of Extinction finished third in the category with $19.75 million, which was enough to take it over perhaps the ultimate threshold and into the exalted realm of billion-dollar movies. It is the only film in 2014 to have accomplished the feat.

Next week will see the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as disaster film Into the Storm and culinary drama The Hundred-Foot Journey starring Helen Mirren.