(CBR) It wasn’t long ago that "Guardians of the Galaxy," with a cast of characters most movie-goers had never heard of, was viewed as Marvel Studios’ biggest gamble to date. But as the clock ticks down to its premiere, the future looks bright for director James Gunn’s space adventure.

Opening Friday in North America on 4,080 screens — the widest-ever August release — Guardians of the Galaxy" arrives to critical acclaim, with a 93-percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also premieres this weekend in the United Kingdom, Russia, Mexico and Brazil, and has been “tentatively approved for Chinese distribution (although a date hasn’t been announced).

Conservative estimates have "Guardians" grossing $65 million in its first weekend at the North American box office, but some industry watchers predict the film could pull closer to $70 million, which would make it the best August opening of all time. "The Bourne Ultimatum" now holds the record with $69.2 million.

The James Brown biopic "Get on Up" is the only other new release this weekend, though last week’s biggest earner "Lucy" and "Hercules" are still out there. Disney and Marvel are so high on the film that they announced a sequel at Comic-Con International the sequel will arrive July 28, 2017.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou , John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin.

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