'Avengers: Age of Ultron' soars to $27.6 million Thursday night

'Avengers: Age of Ultron' off to strong start as it takes in $27.6 million Thursday night

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" is off to a powerful start at the domestic box office with $27.6 million from Thursday night showings, as it aims to possibly break the record for the biggest U.S. opening weekend. 

The sequel to 2012's "The Avengers" is expected to gross $200 million or more, according to analysts. To break the all-time U.S. Canada record, "Age of Ultron" will have to top the $207 million its predecessor generated with its opening. 

"Age of Ultron's" Thursday night number is well above the $18.7 midnight gross from the original Disney/Marvel "Avengers" film. 

The big total adds to the massive $287 million the movie has already grossed internationally. Worldwide, the Joss Whedon-directed superhero, which cost $250 million to make, has grossed $314.9 million so far.

The film marks the big screen return of superheros Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), plus others. James Spader joins the cast as the artificially intelligent robot villain Ultron. 

Demographic data for the sequel is looking fairly balanced at the outset, according to exit polls. The audience so far is 60% male and 40% female. Meanwhile, 45% of the moviegoers were more than 25 years old, and 55% were under that age.  

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9:16 a.m.: This post has been updated with additional information, including demographic data. 

It was originally published at 7:56 a.m.