Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy drew $11.2 million last night, making it the biggest "preview night" opening of 2014 and putting the film on pace to score on the higher end of its estimated $65 to $70 million opening weekend estimates, according to Deadline.
The movie, which opened in many cities last night but is now officially open nationwide in the U.S., has long been considered Marvel's biggest risk, but it managed to outdo the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Thursday night.
The Winter Soldier went on to generate more than $95 million in its opening weekend, which Guardians is not expected to do. Even the $70 million number it's expected to hit would earn it the distinction of being the biggest August opening ever, so $95 million would be nearly impossible to imagine.
The age of the midnight screening that sets the tone for a big opening weekend with a frantic sell-out the night before seems to be over, replaced by an additional evening of revenue as major movies start screening as early as 7 p.m. on the day before a movie's official "release date."
That gave Guardians of the Galaxy the mixed bag that's so common nowadays: there's much less of a sense of urgency to rush right out to the screening, since there are half a dozen of them in many locations...but that half a dozen also means that people have more chances to see it and theoretically it should make for a bigger Thursday.
Guardians of the Galaxy was directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista. It's in theaters now.