Marvel Studios has firmly established itself as one of the biggest - if not the biggest - brands in Hollywood. After six years of releasing movies, the company has not only made two of the highest grossing films of all time - Joss Whedon's The Avengers and Shane Black's Iron Man 3 - but also has proven able to take a property that nobody has ever heard of and turn it into gold. Guardians of the Galaxy had more than its fair share of detractors when it was first announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2011, but now that particular project has made more than half a billion dollars at the global box office and can be called the biggest hit domestically of the summer season.

The numbers are in, and at the time of this article's publication, Box Office Mojo says that James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy has passed the $500 million mark globally with a total of $500,527,773 earned so far. The film got off to a huge, record-setting start at the beginning of this month with a $94 million opening, and even though it has been in theaters for 26 days it still sits at the number one spot on the Top 10. While some blockbusters have proven to either be more successful either at home or abroad, Guardians of the Galaxy so far has found a nice even split between the two markets. Here in the United States the action adventure flick has made $255 million (51% of the total) and in foreign territories it has pulled in $245 million (49% of the total).

These numbers make Guardians of the Galaxy the biggest hit in the U.S. in the weeks since May 1st, with Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction being bumped to second place with its $243 million total so far. That said, the Marvel movie is still nowhere near the robots in disguise in terms of international box office, as Transformers 4 has so far made more than $1.065 billion globally. Unlike Transformers, however, Guardians has not yet been released in major markets like Germany, Italy, Japan and China, where Michael Bay's latest made more than $372 million.

This is really all good news for fans of comic book movies everywhere. If a movie with very little direct brand awareness like Guardians of the Galaxy can become a huge hit, then that opens the door wide open for all kinds of special and strange projects that were previously rejected for not being noteworthy enough. Of course, it will be hard for any of them to compete with Guardians in the quality category (remember that it got a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes), and that's undoubtedly one of the key reasons behind the film's continued success so long after its opening weekend. There's a chance that Guardians of the Galaxy will raise the bar for the entire industry, and we should all be very excited about what that means for the future.

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