4 August 2014 6:46 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Guardians of the Galaxy” injected life into a summer box office that was looking positively moribund.

The Marvel release landed in U.S. theaters with a smashing $94 million debut last weekend, crushing estimates that had pegged an opening in the $70 million range. Those otherworldly results lifted the overall domestic box office.

Going into the weekend, summer ticket sales were off more than 20% from last year’s record-breaker. Thanks to “Guardians,” they now are down 18%, according to Rentrak. The summer box office currently stands at $3.2 billion compared with $3.9 billion at the same point in 2013.

“Summer ain’t over,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “To move the needle one percent in one weekend is a lot. If we can get so we’re 12 or 15 percent down by the end of summer, that’s a more manageable deficit.”

After eight straight weeks of declines, last weekend was up 34.6% over the previous year’s haul. »

- Brent Lang

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