It is not often that a writer and director of a big budget Hollywood summer tentpole gets to carry forth their vision from inception through to the finished product without major changes being enforced by studio executives and producers. A James Gunn note shared on Facebook today to thank everyone for the Guardians of the Galaxy enormous box office success suggests this is exactly what has happened, and perhaps other studios will take note.
Few men on this planet have had as good a weekend as James Gunn. Marvel took a huge risk on his interpretation of Guardians of the Galaxy and that risk paid off handsomely as the film set almost entirely in outer space earned an estimated $94 million during its opening weekend.
There was plenty of room for error in bringing Guardians of the Galaxy, a relatively unknown comic book series outside the comic book community, to the big screen. It stars Chris Pratt, best known for his role on TV’s Parks and Recreation — not carrying a feature film. The film’s carefully balanced tone rides on the audience buying into a talking raccoon, Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and a sentient tree who speaks only three words, voiced by Vin Diesel.
Yet Gunn and his team persevered and were rewarded by Marvel announcing a Guardians of the Galaxy 2 release date for July 27, 2017 ahead of the first film’s release. Rather sit back and revel in the box office success of Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn spent this past weekend working on the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel.
Here’s Gunn’s Facebook note in its entirety:
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…