When your third film, your first for a major studio, makes $94 million in one weekend, especially after a lot of doubt and trepidation as to whether or not your vision would translate and whether you could get the general movie going public to care about D-list characters, there’s only one thing you can say: Thank you. And as the biggest box office weekend of Summer 2014 wound down, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn did just that, posting a thank you note to social media to those that made the Number One movie in North America possible.
It’s almost hard to believe that there was once any kind of talk about Guardians sinking Marvel, and becoming the studio’s first big misstep. It’s also hard to believe, as Gunn said on Twitter Friday, that the combined gross from the midnight screenings of Guardians alone made more money than both his previous films combined. Like Joss Whedon, Shane Black and the Russo Brothers before him, Gunn is now in rarefied air, skipping several spots in the Hollywood stacking order between cult/indie phenom and power player. Not bad for a guy who cut his teeth at Troma on flicks like Tromeo and Juliet! (He also wrote the two live-action Scooby Doo movies, but we’ll try not to hold that against him.)
Included in Gunn’s thanks are not just the “oddballs, outcasts and geeks” that found kindred spirits in the Guardians, but to his team on the production and the producers who took a gamble on him in the first place. And before you think that Gunn spent the weekend watching the box office returns and contemplating his new found fortune and glory, he says he’s actually hard at work on his next project, which is news that should make both movie fans and Disney investors very happy.
Here’s the full message from his Facebook:
Thanks to all of you who saw (and are seeing) Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend, from the bottom of my heart. The Guardians are a group of oddballs, outcasts, and geeks. The movie is for anyone who ever felt cast aside, left out, or different. It’s for all of us who don’t belong. This movie belongs to you. And, today, I think we’re doing okay.
I am of course happy with all the film has accomplished box-office-wise. But what touches me the most is that the film I told the folks at Marvel I wanted to make two years ago is the film that you’re seeing in theaters today – it’s that so many of you seem to be directly EXPERIENCING the film I INTENDED. The cast, the producers, the crew, and I felt like we were making something special while we were making it. But it is very rare that a director’s INTENTIONS in creating a film, or a scene, or a character, or a line of dialogue are, seemingly, specifically what is experienced by an audience (not to mention critics!), and that seems to be what has happened here. You have allowed a talking raccoon – for a moment, a minute, or a day – to make you a little more human. And for that, I am profoundly grateful.
If I relied on myself to implement these intentions, the film would be a shambling mess. But instead, I had a wonderful cast, genius producers, an incredibly brave studio, sublimely talented visual effects artists, great editors, and the best damn crew of mostly-British bastards to actually implement these intentions for me. Where I had a good idea they would, through alchemy, transform it into a great one. Many of you involved are friends of mine on Facebook. Many of you will read this somewhere else. I love you all.
You may remember me posting here a couple weeks ago how sad I was to be finishing up the film, that I was having trouble letting go of Rocket, and that I was going to miss him. But seeing him (and Groot, and the rest of the team) embraced by the world like they have been, to be UNDERSTOOD, makes it a wonderful letting go. It’s like giving a foster pet up for adoption to the most wonderful parents in the world.
And, of course, I’m not really saying goodbye as, while many of you have been enjoying the film, I’ve spent this weekend hard at work on the sequel. I couldn’t help myself! The results are nice but it’s really the creative process I love and that keeps me going. I’m on fire with this thing! The Guardians have so many hardships and heartaches and triumphs ahead of them, and I can’t wait to share them with all of you.
Onto week two…
Notice how Gunn says he’s already at work on Guardians 2, which is currently scheduled for a July 2017 release. That’s going to be a long wait for many movie fans who now have a new favorite ragtag crew of space heroes, but in the meantime, I suppose that the director’s eternal gratitude is a decent substitution. And there’s always the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy animated series on Disney XD…