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Moviegoers Assemble: ‘Avengers’ Sequel Off to Mighty Start at Box Office

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Chris Evans stars as Captain America in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (Courtesy: Marvel)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)-

U.S. fans assembled as soon as the doors opened for “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but the turnout fell short of breaking the record for a preview opening.

“Ultron” is still projected to have a record breaking weekend opening of $220 million.

The Disney and Marvel Studios film took in $27.6 million for its preview showings on Thursday night.

This number beat the $18.7 million the sequel’s predecessor, “The Avengers,” made for its midnight showings in 2012.

While an impressive number, the box office figure came up short of the pre-opening record of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” which pulled in $43.5 million for its midnight showings in 2011.

Yet, “Ultron” did set a record Thursday night by bringing in $3 million in IMAX screenings. This leaped the previous record of $2.3 million which was held by another superhero film, 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”

So far the film has made $314.9 million globally since opening in many overseas markets last week.

With the big box office start, “Ultron” looks to be well on its way to challenging for the biggest box office opening in movie history. A record set by its predecessor, 2012’s “The Avengers.”

Current projections have the film looking at a possibly massive $220 million U.S. opening weekend.

There has been much anticipation and fanfare regarding the latest film in the Marvel series.

Major theater chains like AMC and Regal held a “Ultimate Marvel Marathon” from Wednesday to Thursday that showed all 11 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe back-to-back, and reviews for the film have been mostly positive.

After the big Thursday night showing, “The Avengers” have a few more box office battles to fight.

Here are some of the box office records that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” could beat this weekend:

All-Time Opening Weekend: 2012’s “The Avengers” – $207.4 million

All-Time Opening Day: 2011’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – $91 million

All-Time Summer Opening: 2012’s “The Avengers” – $207.4 million

All-Time May Opening: 2012’s “The Avengers” – $207.4 million