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

Sun Aug 31, 2014 3:14pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (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."

Summer is the movie industry's biggest season, accounting for as much as 40 percent of the entire year's receipts.   Continued...

Cast member Chris Pratt poses at the premiere of "Guardians of the Galaxy" in Hollywood, California July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni