Midnight screenings can be a powerful indication of how well a movie will do over its opening weekend, as it reveals how many people absolutely cannot wait to see a given feature. Basically, a strong midnight opening tends to be followed by a strong opening weekend, the kind that tops the box office and gets studio heads congratulating themselves. Well, in good news for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the film earned a commendable $2.3 million last night in late night screenings of 8 PM and midnight.

Variety predicts with numbers as impressive as this, the sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy could pull in another $10-12 million, today on its official opening. This gross would exceed Paramount's initial predictions and could lead to a five-day opening weekend total of upwards of $40 million. By contrast, the first Anchorman movie made $28 million its opening weekend in the summer of 2004, coming in #2 behind Spider-Man 2. Considering that comedy only cost $26 million to make, that was a massive success. With these early predictions, Anchorman 2 won't go into the black this weekend like its predecessor did. But that's understandable considering it cost nearly double the original, budgeted at $50 million dollars. (Hey, there was a lot of hair and dapper suit costs to cover.)

However, Variety reporter Andrew Stewart warns these early numbers might give an unfairly inflated estimate for the film's success this weekend, writing, "There is still reason for caution, since fanboys inflated the late-night gross." But how he sees this midnight opening as different in audience than any other is not made clear. Fanboys (and fangirls) in this sense means people who absolutely must see the movie they've been waiting for as soon as humanly possible. That's true of the midnight audiences who saw Twilight, The Avengers, The Hunger Games or Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Is it perhaps Anchorman's cult status that has Stewart questioning the sequel's staying power?

If anything, I'd argue the fanboy fervor could improve Anchorman 2's box office standing, as these kind of fans are often the kind who will gladly see a movie repeatedly in theaters. And having seen Anchorman 2, I can tell you with confidence it's the kind of comedy that demands re-watching. It's just that stuffed with one-liners and visual gags.

One problem Anchorman 2 does have to face this weekend is a crowded marketplace. It got a head start by opening on Wednesday (technically Tuesday night), but Friday brings the nationwide release of David O. Russell's A-lister stuffed crime comedy American Hustle, the expansion of Disney's sentimental biopic Saving Mr. Banks, the 3D spectacle Walking With Dinosaurs, and in limited release two highly heralded dramas, Spike Jonze's NYFF entry Her, and The Past from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. Ultimately, Anchorman 2 should do well this weekend. How well is a matter for debate.

Which movie do you want to see this weekend?

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