“Guardians of the Galaxy” will roll out in 4,080 theaters on Friday, the widest release ever for a movie in August. Disney’s Marvel space opera has also been given tentative approval for a China release, though no date has been set.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” will begin its North American screenings with early shows starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Disney’s distribution chief Dave Hollis told TheWrap on Tuesday. “Guardians” will be in roughly 3,200 3D locations, as well as 354 IMAX theaters and about the same number of Premium Large Format theaters.
The previous widest August release was the 4,007 theaters that “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” launched in back in 2009. The widest release ever was for “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” which debuted in 4,468 theaters in 2010, according to Box Office Mojo.
Tracking has “Guardians of the Galaxy” opening at roughly $65 million, though most analysts think it could go even higher. The record for an August opening is the $69.2 million posted by “The Bourne Ultimatum” on the comparable weekend in 2007.
The reviews for “Guardians” are stellar (97 percent positive on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes), the social media signs are strong and it was leading advance sales at online ticket brokers Fandango and MovieTickets.com on Tuesday.
The weekend’s only other wide opener is Universal’s James Brown biopic “Get On Up,” starring Chadwick Boseman (“42”) as the Godfather of Soul.
James Gunn directs “Guardians,” which features Chris Pratt (“The Lego Movie”) in a breakout role as Peter “Star Lord” Quill, who leads a wacky band that also includes Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax the Warrior (Dave Bautista) as well as the CGI characters Groot the tree creature and the gun-toting Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper respectively.
Hollis said that the decision to announce an opening date for a sequel to “Guardians’ at last weekend’s Comic-Con was notable.
“We been pretty conservative on those kind of announcements in the past, so I think you can say it’s an indicator of our confidence in ‘Guardians,'” he said.
No date for the film’s debut in China has been set. That will come with the official acceptance by Chinese film officials, who restrict the number of imported films that play in the rapidly growing market. It can make a big difference; the last Marvel movie to play China, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” grossed more than $115 million there in May.