Going into the weekend, the film is poised to gross around $40 million through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, according to box office analysts, which would easily be enough to top the domestic box office charts.
In the film, co-produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, Johnson plays a helicopter pilot who is searching for his daughter during a massive earthquake.
Looking at other fairly recent disaster movies, the 2013 summer hit "World War Z" picked up $3.6 million in its Thursday debut, leading to a $66 million weekend. "Gravity" drew $1.4 million on its way to $56 million, and "Noah" clocked in at $1.6 million to kick off its $43 million launch.
While "San Andreas" has received mixed reviews from critics, it hasn't suffered the beating of fellow newcomer "Aloha," the romantic comedy from Sony Pictures (14% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes).
"Aloha," directed by Cameron Crowe ("Jerry Maguire" and "We Bought a Zoo"), is tracking for a debut weekend of $12 million to $15 million. Estimates show the film took in $500,000 Thursday night.