Thor: Ragnarok‘s Thursday preview U.S. box office gross was higher than Thor: The Dark World‘s, according to early estimates. In addition to surpassing the opening night numbers for its predecessor, Ragnarok also debuted higher at the domestic box office than last year’s Doctor Strange – which, along with Ragnarok and The Dark World, is the only other Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to open in U.S. theaters during the month of November.

Ragnarok opened in several international markets a week ahead of its domestic bow and is projected to gross some $400 million worldwide by the end of its first weekend playing stateside. The film’s strong box office turnout has no doubt been aided by its glowing critical reception (see Ragnarok being “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes), with much of the praise going to director Taika Waititi for his idiosyncratic take on the property – a vision that was inspired by such playfully colorful 1980s fantasy adventures as Flash Gordon and Big Trouble in Little China, according to the filmmaker himself.

Related: All the Ways Ragnarok Sets Up Infinity War

According to Deadline, Ragnarok grossed $12-14 million at the U.S. box office during its Thursday evening preview screenings. While the final box office numbers may fluctuate from those estimates, they are still expected to come in well above the Thursday evening showings for both 2013’s Thor: The Dark World ($7.1 million) and last year’s Doctor Strange ($9.4 million). It’s also plausible that Ragnarok‘s actual Thursday opening will be higher than the current estimates, putting it closer to the respective Thursday launches for this past summer’s MCU film releases – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($17 million) and Spider-Man: Homecoming ($15.4 million).

[UPDATE: Ragnarok‘s actual Thursday evening gross wound up being on the high end of initial estimates, coming in at $14.5 million.]

Thor Ragnarok Comic Con Poster Hulk Thor: Ragnarok Eclipses The Dark Worlds Thursday Box Office Debut

Box office analysts are now predicting that Ragnarok will open with somewhere between $100-120 million, though those numbers could likewise rise if the film proves to be stronger-than-expected at the Friday box office. Ragnarok‘s box office numbers may not be quite as robust as those for this year’s other two big screen MCU installments, but that was always to be expected. The previous two Thor movies typically aren’t considered to be representative of the MCU at its best, nor were their commercial returns as strong as those for other films in the franchise. As a result, Ragnarok had more to prove from the get-go.

In addition to the positive reviews, Ragnarok has certainly benefited from being marketed as more of a proper “event” film than either of the previous Thor movies were. Ragnarok‘s connections to next year’s Avengers: Infinity War have been played up by its cast and crew ahead of its release, in the process painting the film as being more of a must-see for those moviegoers who want to keep up on the overarching narrative in the MCU. On top of all that, the film costars Mark Ruffalo as (a smarter) Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner; providing all the more reason for fans of “the other guy” to tune in and find out what happens when he goes on a crazy cosmic road trip with the God of Thunder.

MORE: Ragnarok’s Credits Scenes Explained in Detail

Source: Deadline

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