"Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the latest superhero flick from Disney's Marvel Studios, took off with a studio-estimated $10.2 million in domestic ticket sales from Thursday night and midnight showings.
The new film, which has received generally favorable reviews, is expected to gross $90 million or more through Sunday, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys, almost certainly making it the biggest debut of the year thus far.
A $10.2-million Thursday night result puts "The Winter Soldier" ahead of tentpoles including the Warner Bros. Superman movie "Man of Steel" that hauled in $9 million in its Thursday kickoff last summer and went on to take in $117 million in its first weekend.
December's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" launched with $8.8 million on its first Thursday and posted a $74-million opening weekend.
The record for the year's biggest bow is currently held by Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures for "The Lego Movie," which hit theaters in February and grossed $69 million in its first weekend. The well-received 3-D animated comedy has gone on to pull in nearly $250 million domestically.
"The Winter Soldier" could also break the record for the biggest April debut ever, not adjusting for inflation. To do so, it would need to outperform 2011's "Fast Five," part of the long-running "Fast and the Furious" series, which had a first weekend gross of more than $86 million.