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This weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy pulled off something rather spectacular. After years of being considered an extreme gamble and weeks of box office estimates pinning it at making under $70 million for its first three days, the film soared above expectations and managed to create a mini (for now) phenomenon. Critics adore it, audiences are loving it (an A-level CinemaScore has been measured)... and at the center of it all is one filmmaker who is feeling incredibly blessed.
I am, of course, referring to James Gunn - the writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy. A first time blockbuster filmmaker (having never worked on a production with a budget higher than $15 million), Gunn was given the opportunity by Marvel Studios to express a real creative vision, and he succeeded in wholly unexpected ways. People have responded to the movie in a huge and passionate way, and now it's creator has expressed his feelings back. Taking to his personal Facebook page, the director has penned an open letter to both fans as well as his cast and crew. You can read the note in its entirety below:
It's really hard not to feel really happy for James Gunn. Not only is this the first time he's worked with a blockbuster budget, this is also the first time that he has ever experienced real blockbuster success. His directorial debut, the horrifically entertaining Slither, only made $12 million worldwide by the end of its run, and his follow-up, Super, only managed to make $327,716 (it was never released in more than 39 theaters). It's so incredibly rare in Hollywood that a filmmaker can nail the trifecta of 1) finding freedom in the studio system, 2) making a great movie, and 3) getting people to actually go see it. Congratulations are in order, and they are richly deserved.
It will be interesting to see where Guardians of the Galaxy's success goes from here. August is typically one of the weakest movie months of the year, which is one of the reasons why the film's $94 million opening is so stunning (it shattered the August opening record of $69 million set by The Bourne Ultimatum back in 2007). There are other franchise titles coming down the pike, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Expendables 3, but it's hard to deny the inertia caused by extremely positive buzz that Guardians has going behind it. The movie has already proven to be completely unpredictable, so we'll just have to see if it can continue that pattern into its second and third weeks.
In addition to the $94 million estimated opening weekend total, Guardians of the Galaxy has also pulled in a solid $66 million worldwide. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has already been confirmed for July 28, 2017.