Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One kicked off its box-office run Thursday with $12 million from 4,234 theaters for a possible U.S. debut of $50 million or more.
The big-budget film opened a day early to get a jump on Easter weekend and take advantage of some kids being out of school. So far, it is skewing heavily male (at least 59 percent), with 68 percent of ticket buyers under the age of 35. Audiences bestowed the film with an A- CinemaScore.
Ready Player One will easily top the chart in its launch, and will be Spielberg’s biggest opening since the last Indiana Jones movie, which launched to $100.1 million in summer 2008.
The sci-fi adventure — which marks Spielberg’s return to popcorn fare — is a big gamble, considering it cost Warners and Village Roadshow an estimated $175 million to produce before marketing. It also launches in numerous major foreign markets timed to its U.S. bow, including China. The pic has raked in $25 million in overseas markets, including a strong $14.6 million in China, bringing its foreign total to $28.3 million.
The movie, based on Ernest Cline’s pop-culture-soaked novel about a teen’s quest to win control over a virtual universe, will need to do sizable business over the course of its run to land in the black.
Spielberg remains one of Hollywood’s most respected directors. Ready Player One is the first film he has made for Warners since A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which was released in 2001.
Infused with references to the 1980s, Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts, a young man who gets caught up in the virtual-reality world known as the OASIS, which was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Watts and his friends are determined to find the Easter eggs that will give them control of OASIS.
Spielberg directed from an adapted script by Zak Penn and Cline. Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller and Simon Pegg also star.
Two other films open nationwide over Easter weekend: Tyler Perry’s psychological thriller Acrimony and the faith-based God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness.
Acrimony, starring Taraji P. Henson, Lyriq Bent, Jazmyn Simon and Crystle Stewart, grossed a strong $1 million in Thursday-night previews.
March 29, 12:15 p.m. Updated with weekend estimates.
March 30, 7:30 a.m. Updated with Thursday grosses.
The article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.