Disney and Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has launched with a stunning $27.6 million in Thursday night previews in North America.

Showings started at 7 p.m. The domestic number came in far above the $18.7 million grossed in midnight showings by “The Avengers” on its first Thursday night in May 2012 on its way to a record-setting $207.4 million for the weekend. Box office trackers believe that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” can break that mark this weekend with openings at 4,276 locations.

Exit polling from the domestic previews showed 60% of the audience was male and 45% was under the age of 25.

The Thursday night preview number for the sequel fell short of the domestic preview record of $43.5 million, set in July 2011, by Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” “Furious 7” took in $15.8 million in Thursday night previews on April 2. The “Avengers: Age of Ultron” number included $3 milion from Imax showings, nearly 30% above the previous record of $2.3 million from “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The North American launch brought the worldwide total to $314.9 million since the sequel opened on April 22, led by South Korea with $37.2 million, the U.K. with $35.9 million, Russia with $20.9 million and Brazil with $19.7 million. Mexico saw a new opening day record of $6.8 million on Thursday.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” grossed $201 million internationally last weekend from 55% of the overseas markets — 44% ahead of the first film.