1-Up on Wall Street: Why "Guardians of the Galaxy" May Be a Hit, Even by Marvel Standards

For as much positive reaction as we've seen to the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie still ranks as one of the riskiest in Marvel Studios history. How much does parent Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) have to lose? Host Ellen Bowman puts the question to analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this week's episode of "1-Up on Wall Street," The Motley Fool's Web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.

A lack of meaningful comparisons might be troubling to some, Nathan says. Especially since DIsney's most recent attempt at a large-scale space opera (i.e., John Carter) flopped at the box office, resulting in $200 million in studio writedowns. Guardians may not have enough brand equity to avoid a similar fate.

Marvel's aggressive marketing promises a space epic that's as pleasing as the superhero films that preceded it. Source: Marvel Studios.

The good news? What Guardians lacks in brand equity, Marvel has in spades. The studio is already tapping that well by marketing the film as from "the studio that brought you Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers." So long as the film delivers a similar sensibility -- the sort of action-comedy blend fans have come to love -- Nathan sees the bet paying off.

Tim agrees, noting that Marvel has already spent the better part of a year getting fans engaged with the characters via a new comic book series written by Brian Michael Bendis. The tone of the trailer will feel familiar to readers of the comics, he says.

Meanwhile, the trailer itself appears to have struck a chord with 13.8 million views over the past two weeks. Guardians was also a social media hit with more than 88,000 mentions in the first 12 hours of release, noticeably more than the 75,000 Man of Steel achieved in its first 24 hours on the Internet. Billboard also reports a big increase in sales of Blue Swede's 1974 hit, "Hooked on a Feeling," which provided backing for the trailer. Add it up, Tim says, and there's every reason to believe Guardians has the potential to be a Marvel-sized winner.

Now it's your turn to weigh in using the comments box below. Do you expect Guardians of the Galaxy to be a hit? Please watch the video as Ellen puts Tim and Nathan on the spot, and be sure to check back here often for more "1-Up on Wall Street" segments.

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  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 4:42 PM, vollbarry wrote:

    I love your articles. You always leave me with information that I didn't know before. I didn't understand what they were trying to do with Guardians. When you compared it to Marvel's version of Star Wars it made sense. I was hoping it wasn't Marvel's version of Spaceballs.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 8:17 PM, Richardragan wrote:

    As a long time Guardians reader i can tell you this movie will be no Spaceballs movie. I think where Marvel is going with Guardians is Thano's lust for the Infinity Gauntlet.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 10:35 PM, ToddPolt wrote:

    You know what's sad? With everybody worrying about movies being based off only "recognizable" IPs....I doubt a George Lucas could get STAR WARS produced these days.

    "Sorry George, not based off a book or board game or video game or comic or TV show. Nobody has ever heard of this!"

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 9:11 AM, JasonRodriguez wrote:

    I can certainly see GUARDIANS doing IRON MAN numbers based on the Marvel brand, that trailer, its reception, and what's sure to be strong word-of-mouth. I think if anticipation reaches critical mass, we could even see north of 500M domestic, but that would be a real boom scenario. Many months and a lot of marketing to go.

    I wouldn't necessarily put a lot of thought into a John Carter comparison, it's well documented how Disney completely botched the marketing of that film. And for the new comic, even though it's written by BMB, is really only coming in at 60k a month (which, admittedly, is top-10 comics range) but with the exception of Walking Dead, we don't usually see a lot of cross-talk between comics sales and movie sales.

    One thing that could be interesting is to see Marvel do a bit more promotion for this year's Free Comic Book Day. They got a GotG book ready to go out and hopefully they can bring some new folks to the shops and introduce them to the team.

    Anyway, I'd be amazed if this movie did less than 250M.

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