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Can the Guardians of the Galaxy save Hollywood?

“Box Office Slump: Hollywood Facing Worst Summer in Eight Years.”

That was the headline the Hollywood Reporter used to describe the pitiful box office receipts from American theaters from the beginning of May. Dozens of entertainment trades and other publications have gotten into the game of explaining What Went Wrong.

“The season is expected to finish down 15 to 20 percent compared with 2013, the worst year-over-year decline in three decades, and revenue will struggle to crack $4 billion, which hasn’t happened in eight years,” explained Reporter reporter Pamela McClintock.

All true, but perhaps irrelevant because she wrote that before Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy” landed in theaters.

“Guardians,” which opens this weekend, is looking like the sleeper blockbuster hit of the summer.

Boxofficemojo.com initially predicted “Guardians” would take in $180 million domestically and thought it was being generous at that. It is “probably the riskiest of the [Marvel Comics Universe] movies so far,” explained Ray Subers.

On the eve of the movie’s release, Subers realized he’d underestimated the film and revised his prediction upwards, then he had to tack an addendum on that article: “Could Guardians of the Galaxy open to $100 million this weekend? Based on late Thursday earnings, this is actually within the realm of possibilities.”

In fact, it could beat $100 million opening weekend.

If it does, word of mouth will be a huge selling point in future weeks, making for less week-to-week drop off in ticket sales and guaranteeing it a long and profitable run in American theaters.

I went to see “Guardians” Thursday night in Bellingham, Washington. Our theater was near-to-bursting. The audience applause at the end of the movie was something else.

Without reviewing it here, suffice it to say that “Guardians” is an incredibly fun movie, geared to fan and newcomer alike. The cast is a mix of veteran actors, newcomers, and special effects constructs modeled around well-known voices. It is a funny movie without being a comedy. “Guardians” looks incredible and has a soundtrack that’s hard to top.

This is the kind of movie that gets people out to the movies in great numbers. But how great, and can that pull Hollywood all the way out of its rut?

Let’s say “Guardians” takes in $500 million in domestic box office sales by the end of its run. If so, that will go a long way toward stanching the red ink flowing out of Hollywood, which is putting many future movie projects in jeopardy. It would also have knock-on effects when it comes to getting people into other late Summer movies.

All of this wouldn’t be enough to top last Summer’s gangbusters $4.85 billion in ticket sales. But it would drag the studios over the $4 billion mark for the season, and our heroes would live to fight another day on the big screen – a very Marvel Comics sort of ending.

Jeremy Lott About the author:
Jeremy Lott helped found and manage four publications for the Real Clear Politics family of websites. He is the author of three books and an e-book, as well as the recognized ghostwriter of former Maryland governor Marvin Mandel’s memoirs. Follow him on Twitter @jeremylottdiary
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