Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Flies High with $94M Opening


The Walt Disney Company (DIS) owned Marvel studio’s inter-galactic space adventure Guardians of the Galaxy has made a stellar debut. The movie has already grossed $94 million at the box office in its opening weekend trampling Universal Picture’s James Brown biopic Get On Up.

This is the third highest opening of the year after Viacom, Inc’s. (VIAB) Transformers: Age of Extinction ($100 Million) and Marvel's own Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 Million). Moreover, Guardians has surpassed The Bourne Ultimatum’s (2007) record opening of $69.2 million, emerging as the biggest film opening in the month of August.

Made with a budget of $170 million, Guardians is the story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), half human, half alien, who was kidnapped from Earth by Ravagers, a group of space pirates. Years later, Quill, now a space adventurer, steals a valuable orb and is on the run with bounty on his head. While on the run he encounters a set of extraterrestrial misfits (talking Raccoon and a tree-like humanoid called Groot) and forms an uneasy titular alliance to take down his rivals.  It also stars Zoe Saldana and features the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

Guardians was a high risk venture for Disney as it is one of Marvel’s most vague series, set entirely in the outer space. Though the movie received favorable pre-release reviews, such tremendous performance was not expected.

However, with the movie’s superb opening, Disney has a new money making franchise. Last month, at the Comic-Con festival in San Diego, makers of the film had announced its sequel, slated for a 2017 release.

Acquisition of Marvel Studios (2009) has proved to be a terrific benefit for Disney. Ever since the acquisition, Marvel has churned out blockbuster movies one after another. Notable titles include Iron Man 3, The Avengers, Thor and Captain America.

2014 deserves special credit as Marvel enjoyed unprecedented success. Four movies, including Sony Corp’s (SNE) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Twenty-First Century Fox‘s (FOXA) X-Men: Days Of Future Past along with Captain America 2 and Guardians, have had record openings amassing over $90 million in their respective debut weekends.

The explosive performance of its movies at the box office has added more value to the already strong Marvel brand. We believe that the studio will continue with its fabulous run unabated as it boasts of an impressive line up of new movies. Among these are two of next year’s highly anticipated movies namely Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.

The fabulous run will also boost profitability at Disney’s, Studio Entertainment segment which has been reporting record revenues given the roaring success of the animated film Frozen.

This Zacks Rank# 3 (Hold) stock is scheduled to report its third quarter fiscal 2014 earnings after the bell today.

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