Box Office: 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' Earns $8.7 Million Thursday Night

UPDATED: The superhero sequel reteams director Marc Webb with stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 launched in North America Thursday night, earning a pleasing $8.7 million as it kicks off the summer season at the box office.

That's ahead of the first Amazing Spider-Man ($7.5 million), but behind the $10.2 million grossed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier on its first Thursday night -- though Winter Soldier did have the advantage of launching over spring break.

Prerelease tracking suggests Amazing Spider-Man 2 will still match or best the $95 million domestic opening of Winter Soldier. Studio insiders believe the film could be a big draw among families, boosting the bottom line.

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Director Marc Webb reteamed with stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone to make the $200 million-plus sequel, which features an array of new castmembers, including Jamie Foxx as the villain Electro and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, Spider-Man's friend turned nemesis. Paul Giamatti plays Rhino, a third bad guy.

Comparisons to The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) are complicated since that film opened Tuesday of Fourth of July week, taking in $137 million in its first six days, including $62 million for the weekend. Amazing Spider-Man topped out at $752.2 million globally, successfully relaunching the marquee franchise post Tobey Maguire.     

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Amazing Spider-Man 2 has already earned nearly $150 million overseas, where it began rolling out two weeks ago. It opens in another raft of markets this weekend, including in China on Sunday.

Summer almost always begins with a Marvel Comics superhero tentpole. In 2012, Marvel and Disney's The Avengers netted an astounding $207.4 million on its first weekend in May, the highest opening of all time for any time of the year. Last year, Iron Man 3 took in $174.1 million; Thor grossed $65.7 million in 2011; and X-Men Origins: Wolverine made $85.1 million in 2009.

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Spider-Man 3, debuting to $151.1 million in 2007, is the No. 3 May opener of all time after Avengers and Iron Man 3.

No other movie dared premiere nationwide opposite Amazing-Spider Man 2, but launching at the specialty box office is Fox Searchlight's British period drama Belle, directed by Amma Asante and starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode and Emily Watson.