NEW YORK -- "Guardians of the Galaxy" became the summer’s top-grossing movie at the North American box office with a $17.6 million weekend that narrowly bested the young adult melodrama "If I Stay," while the long-delayed "Sin City" sequel, "A Dame to Kill For," flopped.

With $17.6 million in its fourth weekend of release, the Marvel space adventure passed "Transformers: Age of Extinction" to become the summer’s biggest domestic hit with a cumulative total of $252 million. The film, released by Disney, was an unlikely August sensation that helped the box office rebound somewhat.

"This movie just couldn’t have come at a better time," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "When we were really down and out in the summer box office -- at one point down 20 percent from last year -- ‘Guardians’ came along and injected life. What is surprising is that it was a film launched in August."

The Warner Bros. tearjerker "If I Stay" failed to top the box office with a weekend haul of $16.4 million. In the film, Chloe Grace Moretz stars as a teen in a coma after a car accident. It came in third place behind Paramount’s reptile reboot "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," which made $16.8 million in its third weekend.

Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said the studio was pleased with the performance of "If I Stay" considering its $11 million production budget.


Advertisement

Advance tracking on the film had forecast a box office-topping result, but tracking had also expected "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" to open in the mid-teens. It made just $6.5 million.

"This is a complete miss," said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Co.’s distribution chief. "Obviously, we’re very, very disappointed in the numbers. We definitely did not see it coming in like this."

The faith-based high school football film "When the Game Stands Tall" opened with $9.1 million for Sony.

The Top 10

(figures in millions)

1. "Guardians of the Galaxy" $17.6

2. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" $16.8

3. "If I Stay" $16.4

4. "Let’s Be Cops" $11

5. "When the Game Stands Tall" $9.1

6. "The Giver" $6.7

7. "The Expendables 3" $6.6

8. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" $6.5

9. "The Hundred-Foot Journey" $5.6

10. "Into the Storm" $3.8