UPDATE: Walt Disney Pictures has revealed that early reads have the movie tracking for a domestic opening weekend up over $200 million with the record in sight. The original story follows:
There’s little question that Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures’ Avengers: Age of Ultron is looking to set a new opening weekend record now that it’s opened in North America, and it’s off to a great start with $27.6 million from Thursday night previews alone. That’s compared to the $18.7 million midnights for Marvel’s The Avengers on the same weekend in 2012.
The movie grossed $3 million of that amount on IMAX screens setting a new record for IMAX Thursday previews (over The Dark Knight Rises‘ $2.3 million IMAX previews).
By comparison, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 grossed $43.5 million in Thursday previews in July 2011 on its way to the highest-grossing single day ever with $91 million and a first weekend take of $169.2 million. It’s also below the $30 million Thursdays for The Dark Knight Rises and three of The Twilight Saga films, but as we’ve seen with previous Marvel movies like Iron Man 3, which grossed $15.6 million in Thursday previews on its way to $174 million opening weekend, there’s usually enough business for these movies to do just as well over the weekend.
If Avengers: Age of Ultron uses the same multiplier as Iron Man 3, it would open with $300 million, but since more people are going to movies on Thursday night more than ever, it’s probably likely to open somewhere higher than the $207 million opening weekend for Marvel’s The Avengers but still less than $230 million.
Going back to The Dark Knight Rises, that grossed $30.6 million on Thursday compared to the $18.5 million midnight gross of The Dark Knight, and Avengers: Age of Ultron has a smaller increase over The Avengers. Since The Dark Knight Rises only opened with $2 million more than The Dark Knight, we can probably expect that the opening of Age of Ultron won’t be much higher than the original movie.
Internationally, the movie has already grossed $287 million after nearly ten days playing in other countries for a global total of $314.9 million. The production budget is reportedly $250 million, so it should be close to recouping that amount by weekend’s end.