UPDATE 1-'Guardians of the Galaxy' wins weekend, tops this year's box office universe

Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:40pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK Aug 31 (Reuters) - The "Guardians of the Galaxy" misfits reached a new box office stratosphere over the U.S. Labor Day weekend, soaring past fellow Marvel hero "Captain America" to become the highest-grossing domestic movie of 2014.

"Guardians" rang up $16.3 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales from Friday through Sunday, topping weekend charts for the third time since its Aug. 1 debut, according to estimates from tracking firm Rentrak. Total domestic sales climbed to $274.6 million, surpassing the $259.8 million earned by April release, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

Giant robot sequel "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which had a June 27 U.S. opening, reigns as the year's top-grossing film worldwide with more than $1 billion in sales, including a domestic haul of $244.3 million, according to boxofficemojo.

"Guardians" has earned $547.7 million around the globe, distributor Walt Disney Co said.

The big-budget space adventure stars Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana as leaders of an oddball group of warriors that includes a talking raccoon and a humanoid tree.

In a sign of the film's staying power, Disney said ticket sales were down only 5 percent from last weekend. But the strength of "Guardians" is a bright spot in a sluggish summer for Hollywood at domestic theaters.

U.S. and Canadian ticket sales stood at $4.02 billion from the first weekend in May through Sunday, or 14.7 percent below last year, according to Rentrak's estimates. This year's films didn't keep pace with 2013's record-generating crop which included "Iron Man 3" and "Despicable Me 2."   Continued...