"Kingsman: The Golden Circle" lassoed $3.4 million at the Thursday previews, more than double of what the first "Kingsman" earned in 2015 ($1.4 million).
Both the studio and independent trackers anticipate the film to open in the low $40 million range against a $104 million budget. The sequel's 2015 predecessor, "Kingsman: The Secret Service," grossed a $36.2 million opening from its mid-February release, going on to gross $128.2 million domestic and $414 million worldwide against an $81 million budget.
Reviews have been mixed -- the film holds a score of 52 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. "The Golden Circle" stars Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Pedro Pascal, Mark Strong, Halle Berry and Channing Tatum, and was directed by Matthew Vaughn.
"Kingsman: The Golden Circle" sees dapper super-spy Eggsy (Egerton) return to stop the evil terror ring known as The Golden Circle with the help of the Kingsmen's American counterparts, the Statesmen.
"Kingsman" should easily take the No. 1 spot this weekend, beating New Line's "It" as well as Warner Bros.' "The Lego Ninjago Movie," which is expected to make a solid $30 million this weekend. "It" earned another whopping $3.9 million on Thursday, and has finally surpassed "The Exorcist" to become the highest grossing horror movie of all time, having earned $236.3 million so far.
"The Lego Ninjago Movie" follows six young aspiring ninjas as they train under Master Wu (Jackie Chan) to protect the land of Ninjago from an invasion by the evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), father of the ninjas' leader, Lloyd (Dave Franco). Fred Armisen, Olivia Munn and Kumail Nanjiani also star. Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan are directors.