Kingsman: The Golden Circle” kicked off to $3.4 million from Thursday evening previews.

The R-rated action film is expected to top the box office and keep the September movie-going resurgence chugging along. It is on pace to earn more than $40 million over the course of its debut weekend.

Twentieth Century Fox, the studio behind the picture, said it compared favorably with other September bows for action films — “The Equalizer” picked up $1.4 million in previews, while “The Magnificent Seven” nabbed $1.7 million. The first “Kingsman” grossed $1.4 million on its way toward a $128.3 million domestic haul. MARV backed the picture with Fox.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” brings back original stars Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong, and recruits franchise newcomers Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Elton John. Matthew Vaughn once again directs the picture. The film follows a secret spy agency as it tries to save the world from a brutal drug runner with a penchant for turning her enemies into hamburger (disgustingly and literally).

Reviews for the film have been mixed, with Variety’s Peter Debruge faulting “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” for being “so outlandish that ‘Moonraker’ suddenly looks plausible by comparison.”

Overseas, the new “Kingsman” outing has netted $12.7 million from 50 markets through Thursday.

The film’s chief competition for the top spot should come from two Warner Bros. releases. “The Lego Ninjago Movie” is expected to premiere to $30 million, and “It,” now in its third weekend, should continue to scare up business. The strong grosses for “It,” the “Lego” spinoff, and the “Kingsman” sequel are good news for the movie business. After suffering its worst summer in decades, fall is off to a robust start.