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The summer blockbuster season got off to an incredible start with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on May 5, and it has struggled to top that early success. James Gunn's highly anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel held the top spot at the box office for two consecutive weekends, and it has since gone on to make a boatload of money along the way. The film is a clear cash cow for Marvel Studios, but Gunn recently opened up to his fans and explained that his primary concern is storytelling and connecting with audiences instead of making money. The director wrote:
If there is one particular thing that we want to take away from James Gunn's recent comments about his filmmaking career, it's that this is probably the mentality that more filmmakers should adopt. His passion for storytelling is evident in his work, but more than that, his passion for the distinct worlds that he builds is apparent -- even in a huge tentpole blockbuster. It's abundantly clear that Gunn loves the Guardians of the Galaxy world, and that love has translated into a profound attention to detail, and a movie that doesn't necessarily feel like a cash grab.
Ultimately, that's why movies like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 seem to succeed where other franchises falter. Audiences are smarter than they get credit for, and they can always sense when a filmmaker cares about the subject matter of a given film. Whether it's Ryan Reynolds and Tim Miller's recent collaboration on Deadpool or even Sam Raimi's work on the original Spider-Man films, the most successful genre movies typically work because a passion for world-building and storytelling supersedes a desire for financial success.
James Gunn eventually addressed the concept of money itself in his recent Facebook post, and he made sure to lay out the mere fact that money is a necessity, but it's far from the reason that he works. Gunn elaborated:
I can't exactly say that I fault him for that. After all, everyone has to make a living in some form or another. The only difference for James Gunn is that he gets to make a living by diving into fantastic sci-fi worlds and telling timeless stories; I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little jealous.
At the end of the day, making the GDP of a small country while telling a great story seems like a pretty awesome gig, and James Gunn has handily become a master of the process. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 currently in theaters, so make sure to check it out!