21 July 2014 11:02 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The box office bad news is mounting, with “Guardians of the Galaxy” emerging as the best hope to bolster the sagging domestic film market.

The summer box office is down roughly 20% from 2013′s record-breaking highs and year-to-date overall ticket sales are off more than 6%. The only relief in sight is an intergalactic band of superheroes that are well-loved by comic-book aficionados and little-known to the rest of us.

“‘Guardians’ is the biggest swing factor in August,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with Mkm Partners. “Most Augusts there are surprises like we saw last year with ‘The Butler.’ Nothing stands out right now, so we’ll have to see.”

“Guardians” has been well-received on social media and elsewhere, but is not as recognizable a brand as Iron Man or Captain America, so gauging how the movie will be received is tricky.

“To put all that pressure on one movie is unfair, »

- Brent Lang

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