"Guardians of the Galaxy" surprised a lot of people this weekend when the film -- projected to be successful, but maybe not a gigantic record-breaking hit -- took in $94 million, the biggest opening ever for an August release.
There are many reasons that the film caught on, from slick marketing to a built-in fan base from the Marvel comic books to everyone's new favorite raccoon, Rocket. At the center of the discussion, however, is the surprising emergence of Chris Pratt, the TV actor who has emerged as a bona fide movie star.
As the buzz increases, the question remains: Can Pratt, who played the movie's hero, Star-Lord, stay on the A-list? Starring in one hit movie doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a box office draw forever. But after looking at the evidence, the odds seem to be in Pratt's favor.
Just take a look at his resume: Though Pratt might be best known these days for playing the lovable doofus Andy Dwyer on NBC's critically-acclaimed-but-low-rated sitcom "Parks and Recreation," he's quietly built an impressive -- and diverse -- body of work.
Pratt took a very time-honored route to success, starting with the small screen. Though he started on the drama side in WB's "Everwood," he showed off his comedy chops on Fox's teen dramedy "The O.C." He pivoted into comedy for "Parks and Recreation," with his dimwitted character becoming the show's go-to for easy laughs.
While building up all sorts of goodwill on TV, Pratt was also taking smaller parts in a lot of movies, piling up roles in everything from Oscar-nominated features ("Moneyball," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Her") to less prestigious flicks ("Bride Wars," "The Five-Year Engagement"). As a result, Pratt became a solid supporting man.
So, when the time came to cast a lead for "Guardians of the Galaxy" last year, producers went with Pratt as a relatively unknown gamble, banking on his fresh comedic charm to shake up the movie. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zachary Levi were other names reportedly in contention.)
With "Guardians" under his belt, in addition to a successful voice-over turn in the hit "The Lego Movie" earlier this year, Pratt's star seems to be clearly on the rise. More evidence: He's already cast as the lead in next summer's highly anticipated "Jurassic World." And given that "Parks and Recreation" is coming to an end next year, that just frees him up to bank even more roles on the big screen.
It's safe to say we're all about to see a lot more of Chris Pratt.
See you next summer, Star-Lord.