It's too soon to tell what sort of records "Avengers: Infinity War" will break, but the superhero sequel is already off to a strong start.
The latest flick from Disney-owned Marvel Studios drummed up $39 million on Thursday evening, the best preview night haul for any movie in Marvel's series of 19 interconnected films.
A decade in the making, "Infinity War" unites many of the Marvel comic book characters that Disney has introduced on screen to date. The unprecedented scale of the superhero movie has some box-office watchers speculating that it could post the best-ever U.S. opening when the receipts come in this weekend.
"Infinity War" will have to close the gap with a few other films. Its Thursday night earnings trail "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and its sequel, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," as well as the final installment of Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter" series.
Beating "Star Wars," another Disney franchise, will be tough, but it's not impossible.
In February, Marvel's "Black Panther" grossed $25.2 million in Thursday screenings, putting it just outside the top 10. But the movie gathered momentum over the weekend and ultimately earned $202 million over three days to post the fifth-best U.S. opening of all time.
"Infinity War" will have to top the nearly $248 million generated by "The Force Awakens" to claim the title for best U.S. debut. Some analysts think that's possible.
Boxoffice.com projects the film will earn $225 million to $255 million.
"'Infinity War' has the added benefit of being promised as a semi-finale to 10 years' worth of franchise building, which could elevate its box-office performance even higher than previous Marvel sequels," said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com.
"Much like the final films in series like 'The Dark Knight,' 'Star Wars' and 'Harry Potter,' this is billed as the payoff movie that fans have been waiting for," he added.
Whether or not "Infinity Wars" sets a new record, it will almost certainly join an exclusive club of box-office earners, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.
"It will be only the sixth movie to open above $200 million, and to do it in April is just unprecedented," he said.
Disney is "just systematically creating blockbuster months out of months that long ago were not considered fertile ground for blockbuster status," Dergarabedian said.