(Updated, 5:47 PM EST)
"The Purge" earned more than its $3 million production budget in a single evening.
The home-invasion horror film racked up $3.4 million at late shows on Thursday night, according to studio estimates. Advance ticket sales for the film have been strong, and it is on course to make more than $20 million at the box office this weekend.
If it can hit that threshold, the micro-budgeted production could unseat "Fast & the Furious 6" from the top spot — it has been the highest-grossing film at the box office for the past two weekends and has racked up more than $520 million globally.
"The Purge" is also expected to edge out "The Internship," a Fox comedy that reunites "Wedding Crashers" Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as a pair of over-the-hill Google interns. That film should draw roughly $15 million to $17 million.
It made roughly $800,000 in Thursday night screenings.
"The Purge” stars Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey as a family held hostage during a 12-hour period in which crime is legalized once a year so criminals can let off steam.
Viewers seem to crave the anarchy that “The Purge” is offering. The represented 54 percent of ticket sales on Fandango on Thursday and is generating the highest pre-sales of any horror film this year, the ticketer reports.
For Universal, the early success of “The Purge” appears to validate its deal with its producer Jason Blum, who has popularized the low-budget, high return formula with the “Paranormal Activity” franchise.
Terror can be pretty profitable.