Just 12 hours after debuting at midnight showings across the United States, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" has a great chance of smashing box office records, Gitesh Pandya, chairman of BoxOfficeGuru.com, said on Friday.
Disney's superhero sequel pulled in $27.6 million at Thursday night showings, setting it up to earn an all-time high above $91 million—and perhaps more than $100 million—on opening day, he said. Moviegoers spent a total of $3 million to watch the Avengers assemble on IMAX screens overnight, a record for a late-night opening on the oversize screens.
To take the crown for best domestic debut, the sequel would have to beat the original. "Marvel's The Avengers" currently holds the title, having drummed up $207 million in its first three days in theaters in July 2012.
At a time when many audiences are staying home to watch small- and medium-scale movies on televisions and tablets, the Avengers is one of the remaining franchises that can reliably turn out audiences, Pandya said.
"The biggest brands—Avengers, "Fast and Furious"—these are experiences that people do want in a movie theater, with the sound, with the special effects, in some cases 3D," he told CNBC's "Squawk Alley."
With prices for tickets reaching $22 for an 3D IMAX screening in New York City, new releases must be "something special" to entice crowds, Pandya said.
"The studios do want the big brands and the big celebrity experiences that get people out," he said. "That is a major issue that studios have to worry about because not every film is worth paying $20 or $22 per ticket, especially if you're 18 and very price sensitive."