Marvel's got a new star (or five) in its roster: Guardians of the Galaxy launched to an estimated $94 million this weekend in 4,080 theaters, setting a new record for an August debut. (The previous winner was 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, with $69.3 million.)
That's the third biggest opening of 2014 so far, behind Transformers: Age of Extinction ($100 million) and Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million). It's also the seventh best opening in history for a non-sequel (or sixth if you count Marvel's The Avengers as a mega-sequel), outpacing other superhero series debuts such as 2011's Thor ($65.7 million) and 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger ($65.1 million). One more fun stat: Guardians is Marvel's ninth (!) consecutive No. 1 movie, a streak that reaches back to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012), which debuted at No. 3.
Guardians was a $170 million gamble for Marvel that featured unfamiliar characters and an untested lead actor, Parks and Rec favorite Chris Pratt, who stars with Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. But a marketing campaign that highlighted the movie's outer-space action and sarcastic, Iron Man-esque tone (not to mention Pratt's newly sculpted physique) drew early buzz, and the movie's release brought a wave of critical praise: Guardians scored a great 92 percent from reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- from EW's Chris Nashawaty, who called it "a giddily subversive space opera that runs on self-aware smart-assery." With an A CinemaScore, the PG-13 adventure looks likely to perform well in the coming weeks—and Marvel recently announced that a sequel is already in the works. The movie also earned $66.4 million overseas, bringing its global gross to a stellar $160.4 million.