Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Marvel have been on an undeniable hot streak when it comes to comic book adaptations. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D may not be putting up great ratings on television, but outside of that small blunder, Disney-produced Marvel properties have looked pretty much unstoppable since the release of Iron Man in 2008. It seems hard to believe, but prior to the release of the Robert Downey Jr.-led blockbuster, Tony Stark and his iron-suited alter ego weren't exactly big names compared to the likes of Batman and Spider-Man. That said, a substantial portion of the film-going public had at least heard of Iron Man prior to the film adaptation's first trailers hitting theaters and the web.
With the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney faces the challenge of successfully introducing a team of heroes that most people have no familiarity with. There's been some doubt as to whether the film will be able to live up to the box office takes of the solo films starring members of The Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy may have a secret weapon, however, and it comes in the form of a talking raccoon.
A raccoon and his buddies will outdo Captain America
If the idea of a gun-toting, wise-cracking space raccoon doesn't sound like an immediate recipe for box office success, it's worth remembering that there is a notable history of films with similar elements generating huge returns. Guardians of the Galaxy looks to blend aspects of the "Star Wars" series with the formula that has enabled Disney and Marvel to unleash success after success at the box office.
Guardians won't out gross the adjusted figures for the top earning "Star Wars" films, but it would be surprising if it didn't surpass the approximately $370 million that Marvel's own Captain America nabbed in his first international box office outing. The impressive performance of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is proving the validity of the so-called "Avengers bump," and Guardians is certain to benefit from the strength of the Marvel brand. Look for the film to clear the $500 million mark.
Look to Ted
Stray a little outside of the sci-fi genre and you'll find that the idea of a cute-looking creature with a mature comedic streak has found incredible success in recent years. Take a look at Ted, the 2012 R-rated comedy from writer-director Seth McFarlane and released through Comcast's (UNKNOWN:CMCSK.DL) Universal Studios. The movie featured a crude, foul-mouthed, but apparently lovable talking teddy bear and climbed to over $549 million at the global box office. Of that impressive figure, approximately $330 million came from foreign markets.
More bad press for Fox's Fantastic Four reboot
While Marvel and Disney are trying to position a team of relative unknowns as the next box-office sensation, Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) looks to be botching one of its premier film licenses. Details have repeatedly leaked about its production of a Fantastic Four reboot, with most of them proving to be true and angering fans of the property.
The latest turn of the rumor mill comes from Bleeding Cool, and the site is adamant that it has firsthand knowledge of major production difficulties and a possible reboot of the "Fantastic Four" reboot. Fox has supposedly been looking to ditch the script it's been working off of, find a new cast, and land a high-profile director to replace Josh Trank. The director's Twitter account was deleted shortly before the dissemination of these supposed leaks. Even if the latest gossip is mostly grounded in fiction, Fox is fighting an uphill battle with the project.
Should Fox sell off The Fantastic Four?
If the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot fails to reinvigorate the series, the prospect of selling the rights back to Marvel becomes increasingly attractive. Fox already lost the rights to film versions of Daredevil by failing to have a film in production by the necessary dates. Arranging for a sale of the film rights to The Four could be the right move if the studio can't make the characters work on the big screen. Fox would still have the "X-Men" property, which looks like it's primed for a big hit with the upcoming Days of Future Past.
Aliens are pretty diverse
Marvel's latest intergalactic superteam seems primed for major success in foreign markets. The film features a diverse cast and the type of flashy theatrics that make for an easy transition to international territories. Between Vin Diesel, Benicio Del Toro, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, and Karen Gillan, there's enough star power and charm to attract domestic audiences. The Bradley Cooper-voiced Rocket Raccoon will likely provide the extra pop needed to propel the film to international blockbuster status.
Dawn of the raccoon's age
The recent success of Ted demonstrates that simultaneously cute and hardcore talking animals have massive appeal when done properly, and the cast and concept is primed for international success. Combine that with the consistency that has defined Marvel projects and you have a recipe for explosive success.