Disney’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” is hammering competition at the domestic box office, projecting an opening north of $135 million from 4,375 theaters. That would be a step up from the stormy superhero’s previous solo outing, “Thor: Ragnarok,” which opened to $122.7 million in 2017.

Should estimates hold, “Love and Thunder” will mark the 12th biggest debut for a Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, between 2017’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” ($146.5 million) and 2010’s “Iron Man 2” ($128.1 million). It would also score the third highest three-day domestic opening of the year, behind Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion” ($145 million) and Disney’s own “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($187.4 million).

The fourth installment in Thor’s MCU story got off to a mighty strong start with a $69.5 million gross on opening day, which includes $29 million in Thursday previews.

As is the case with any Marvel Studios film, “Love and Thunder” cost a pretty penny, carrying a $250 million production price tag. And, as is the case with almost any Marvel Studios film, it shouldn’t be long before the movie recoups those costs in global ticket sales.

Critics have been much less receptive to “Love and Thunder” than the usual Marvel entry. The film currently holds a 51% approval aggregate from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman enjoyed the entry though, praising Taika Waititi’s direction for having “the wit to see that if you aren’t mocking a Marvel movie as you’re making one, you might be taking it more seriously than the audience does.”

While audiences are warmer to “Love and Thunder” than critics, the film doesn’t seem to be drawing the same level of enthusiasm that greets most Marvel movies. “Love and Thunder” scored a “B+” grade from research firm Cinema Score, indicating a firmly favorable opinion among ticket buyers. However, 25 out of the 28 prior entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have earned Cinema Score grades of “A-” or higher, with 2011’s “Thor” and this year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” drawing “B+” grades and last fall’s “Eternals” scoring a franchise-low “B.”

How word-of-mouth is impacting the film’s run won’t be evidenced until next weekend, but it wouldn’t be ill-advised to set expectations a tad lower for now. Regardless, by just factoring in this impressive opening, “Love and Thunder” will land firmly among the highest grossing releases of the year.

“Ragnarok” director Waititi returns for “Love and Thunder,” which stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, his on-again, off-again love interest, who also takes on the title of Thor in this one. In this chapter of the “Thor” story, the exes must band together in order to defeat Gorr the God Butcher, played by Christian Bale.

Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” should fall to second in its sophomore outing. The studio is projecting a $47.2 million haul, marking a 56% fall from its stellar $107 million debut.

The spinoff following the babbling yellow Tic Tac creatures is already the biggest animated release at the box office since 2019’s “Frozen II.” The Illumination production should expand its domestic gross beyond $200 million through the weekend.

Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” continues its run of solid holds, with the studio projecting a 44% dip for the Tom Cruise sequel in its seventh weekend. The film should expand its domestic gross to $596 million this weekend, inching closer to becoming the 12th release ever to cross $600 million in North America.

On all-time domestic box office charts, “Maverick” currently stands within striking distance of Disney’s “Incredibles 2,” which finished its domestic run with $608 million in the tank. After that, the Paramount release looks to make a dent in the all-time top 10, aiming to surpass “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” ($608 million) and “The Avengers” ($620 million). For now, “Maverick” will have to settle for being the highest-grossing release of 2022 at the global box office.

“Elvis” should take fourth place for the weekend. The Warner Bros. biopic. is projected to fall a respectable 38% in its third Friday, adding $3.3 million to its haul. The Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic will surpass a $90 million domestic gross through Sunday. “Elvis” could push pass Paramount’s “The Lost City,” which earned $105 million in its domestic run, to become the biggest North American release of the year without ties to an existing franchise (though the film is essentially about how Presley became a franchise in and of himself).

Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion” looks to round out the top five, dropping 50% in its fifth weekend of release. The dino-sequel will hit a domestic gross of $350 million in the coming days. It now seems unlikely that “Dominion” will be able to match the $417 million North American haul of its predecessor, 2018’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” However, the film is closing in on Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” ($369 million) to become one of the three biggest domestic releases of the year.