“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” battled to a whopping $27.7 million at the Thursday previews, with shows beginnings as early as 6 p.m. (at least an hour earlier than most Thursday previews) to accommodate eager fans.
The weekend’s other wide opener, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” laughed its way to a more modest $1.02 million in 2,395 theaters.
“Batman v Superman” now holds the highest Thursday pre-show opening for Easter weekend, a record previously held by “Furious 7” when it grossed $15.8 million last year. $3.6 million came from IMAX showings, which is also their largest Easter preshow ever.
Director Zack Snyder‘s comic-book adaptation is tracking for $150 million domestically, according to industry experts.
But Warner Bros., which developed and is distributing the DC Comics superhero epic starring Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader and Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel, is more conservative and estimates a domestic debut between $100 million and $140 million.
In comparison, “Man of Steel” had a Thursday preview gross of $12 million and went on to earn $116.6 million its opening weekend in June of 2013. “The Dark Knight Rises” debuted to $75 million in 2012.
“Batman v Superman” has a good shot at shattering the box office record for a March opening, held by “The Hunger Games,” which debuted to $152 million in 2012. The best domestic opening ever is the $247.9 million domestic launch of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” three months ago.
“Batman v Superman” also stars Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Jeremy Irons (Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred) and Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luther), along with Diane Lane and Holly Hunter.
Reviews for the film have been poor, with a disappointing 32 percent critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Marvel’s flagship superhero team franchise, “The Avengers,” debuted in 2012 with a 92 percent approval rating.
In 2002, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” made $103,000 at the Thursday previews but went on to gross $241 million domestically on a $5 million production budget.
Nia Vardalos and John Corbett reprise their roles from the original, in which a young Greek woman fell in love with a non-Greek and struggled to get her family to accept him. This time around, a Portokalos family secret brings the gang back together. Vardalos also wrote the script.
The Universal Pictures comedy, produced by Gold Circle Entertainment, HBO and Playtone, was tracking between $11 million and $17 million heading into the weekend, although the studio has suggested $10 million. The sequel’s budget was significantly higher than the first, around $18 million.
Directed by Kirk Jones, the film currently holds a 24 percent approval rating from critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes.