Avengers: Infinity War is opening a week earlier than we expected in North America, up from May 4 to April 27. That’s an exciting change, but there is no shift in the opening weekend expectations. They’re big. Really big.

Box Office Pro has issued their first long-range forecast for Infinity War and they’re predicting a domestic opening weekend between $200M and $235M.

The high end of that forecast would give Infinity War the second biggest opening ever, behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($248M). The low end would be the sixth highest opening ever and the third best for Marvel Studios, behind The Avengers ($207.4M) and Black Panther ($202M).

Keep in mind, however, that none of this is actual box office tracking. This is merely Box Office Pro’s prediction and the broad range they’re giving shows just how many unknown factors remain between now and April 27.

This isn’t the first time it’s been thought that Marvel Studios would set a new studio best by toppling The Avengers. Many predicted it would happen with Avengers: Age of Ultron ($191.3M) and Captain America: Civil War ($179.1M), but both fell short.

The latter never really had a shot while the former hit a relative slump on its first Saturday partly due to massive interest in the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao boxing match. Even without the fight, it’s hard to say Age of Ultron would have definitely passed Avengers, though it might have had a better shot at hitting $200M.

This isn’t Monopoly money. $200M opening weekends are hard to come by. Only five films have ever hit that mark. Two of them are Star Wars movies while the other three all have one thing in common: no one expected any of them to have $200M openings going into their first three days.

Jurassic World ($208.8M), The Avengers, and Black Panther all caught fire in ways no one expected. To reach $200M, a film has to capture the pop culture zeitgeist and there’s no formula for doing that. It helps, however, to offer a major event unlike anything moviegoers have seen.

The Avengers was the first of its kind, as was Black Panther in many ways. Jurassic World is the $200M opening that makes the least amount of sense to me, but it played on multi-generational nostalgia while delivering the one sequel Jurassic Park fans had always wanted (“The park is open”).

Avengers: Infinity War certainly has some “first-time ever” qualities. We’ve seen superheroes come together before, but not teams of superheroes joining forces like we’ll see with The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy in less than two months. We’ve also never seen a film that was the culmination of a 10-year narrative told through 18 films that preceded it.

It should also have some of the nostalgia kick that’s benefitted Star Wars and Jurassic World, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe celebrates its 10th anniversary. All of these things and more could very well lead to Avengers: Infinity War opening over $200M and even passing The Avengers to set a new Marvel Studios record.

The reviews will obviously need to be glowing with critics assuring audiences that Marvel Studios has indeed pulled off what seems like the impossible. Confidence in Marvel Studios is at an all-time high, but there’s still some doubt (not from me) as to whether or not directors Joe and Anthony Russo can wrangle so many characters into a coherent, satisfying story that isn’t just a setup for Avengers 4.

In truth, the only reason people believe this can be done is because it’s Marvel Studios. That’s sound logic, but moviegoers could be cautious if they don’t see it reinforced with the early social media reactions and reviews.

There are no guarantees. Anything could derail Infinity War‘s path to a $200M+ opening. It wouldn’t even be a failure for Infinity War to come in under $200M (as long as it’s not too far under). We will just have to see how it all plays out.

We’ll have a better idea of the box office expectations for Avengers: Infinity War when it hits industry tracking three weeks prior to its April 27 release.

SOURCE: Box Office Pro