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Can Guardians of the Galaxy Break the Box Office Curse of Summer 2014?

Can Guardians of the Galaxy Break the Box Office Curse of Summer 2014?
Photograph by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett Collection

Guardians of the Galaxy earned an estimated $94 million on its opening weekend, setting a new August record and validating the filmmakers and executives who took a chance on a tongue-in-cheek, big-budget sci-fi adventure based on a lesser-known cult title. With a solid $66 million opening from overseas markets and a sequel in progress, the Marvel Studios film is already one of this year’s great successes. How great depends: Can Guardians break the box office curse of summer 2014?

By almost every measure, this summer has been a disappointment at the domestic box office, a credit to audience fatigue, a crowded schedule of tentpole releases, and fewer mid-level hits along the lines of last year’s The Conjuring. For the first time since 2002, July’s total didn’t even hit $1 billion. And in spite of some huge opening weekends, no summer movie has managed to take in $300 million at the domestic box office. That hasn’t happened since 2001, when $300 million was a lot harder to reach (tickets were cheaper, and there were virtually no 3D or IMAX surcharges).