Universal Pictures opened Jurassic World, the return of the franchise originated by Steven Spielberg back in 1993, on Thursday night for early previews in 3,229 theaters. Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong and Omar Sy, it grossed $18.5 million from those Thursday night previews.
Today, Jurassic World expands into 4,273 theaters and based on the performance so far, it’s looking very likely that it will beat the previous June opening record held by Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel on the same weekend in 2013.
Last summer, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, the highest-grossing movie of the summer, opened with $11.2 million in Thursday previews which was compiled into an opening day take of $37.8 million and an opening weekend of $94.3 million.
Possibly a better comparison would be Man of Steel, which scooped up $21 million in Thursday previews on the same weekend two years ago but that included $12 million from a special Walmart promotion, which just confuses matters. It ended up with a $44 million opening day (not including the $12 million) on its way to the June opening weekend record of $116.6 million.
Other comparisons are even more promising for Jurassic World‘s chances of setting a new June record. The $18.5 million is more than the $15.8 million in Thursday box office that kicked off Universal Pictures’ Furious 7 when it opened in early April on its way to an opening weekend of $147.2 million (and over $350 million domestic total). It’s also more than Iron Man 3‘s $15.6 million in May 2013 and that became the second-biggest opening movie at the time. (It’s good to note that both of those movies opened while school was still in session, so both movies would still have substantial weekend business.)
Other comparisons include Legendary Pictures’ 2014 release Godzilla, which only made $9.3 million in Thursday previews for an opening day of $38.4 million and $93.2 million its opening weekend. A little over a month later, Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction only took in $8.8 million on Thursday and grossed $41.8 million its first day. The film still ended up with a $100 million opening weekend, the biggest opening weekend for last summer.
We have to assume that Jurassic World is going to be slightly more frontloaded than some of the others mentioned above, being such a venerable franchise that’s made its fans wait so long for a sequel, but it should be good for close to $50 million its opening day (including those Thursday previews), which could put it somewhere in the $115 to 130 million range for the weekend depending on how frontloaded it ends up being.
Yesterday, it was reported that Jurassic World had already grossed $24.5 million internationally where it opened in a handful of markets slightly earlier than in North America with $17.4 million of that coming from China alone, putting Universal Pictures over the $2 billion internationally faster than in any other year.
Check back tomorrow for an update on Jurassic World‘s box office prospects once we have an estimate for Friday and stay tuned on Sunday for the full box office report.