LOS ANGELES, Aug 1 (REUTERS) - The Guardians Of The Galaxy stormed into the box office with a $11.2 million (S$14 million) opening night, Walt Disney Co said on Friday, and could outperform expectations if it keeps drawing viewers with a new leading man, strong reviews and social media buzz. Guardians, the newest franchise from the Disney-owned Marvel universe, follows a rogue band of misfits on an intergalactic space adventure.
As the Guardians try to save the galaxy from a planet-destroying orb coveted by evil warlords, they may also "save the summer" for a slumping movie industry if the film exceeds expectations, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. "This is a movie that everyone has been waiting for," Mr Dergarabedian said.
Hollywood's summer box office has been in a funk, producing fewer blockbusters than usual and putting ticket sales 20 per cent behind last year at US$2.93 billion.
Early projections for the Guardians opening weekend at the US and Canadian box office were estimated to reach between US$65 million to US$80 million. Dergarabedian said the movie could beat those forecasts especially if Saturday's attendance holds strong.
The film is benefiting from positive reviews and social media chatter, and Mr Dergarabedian said actor Chris Pratt in the leading role of Star-Lord, is a "newly minted movie star, like a young Harrison Ford in 'Indiana Jones,' the lovable rogue and antihero who becomes the hero." The success of "Guardians" could encourage studios to reconsider August as a key movie release month, he said. In past years, the prime summer release slot has been earlier.
Thursday night earnings for Guardians at the U.S. box office overtook the April opening of Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which made US$10.2 million on its first night and went on to make US$96.2 million in the United States and Canada over its first weekend.