‘The Hunger Games’ Breaks Records with $155 Million Opening Weekend

The film will gross a historic $155 million in its opening-weekend box-office debut, its studio estimated this morning.

'The Hunger Games' had opened strong on Friday, notching $68.5 million in ticket sales, as fans lined up for midnight screenings and packed theaters around the country. Photo: Lions Gate

‘The Hunger Games’ became champion its opening weekend, snagging a whopping $155 million in ticket sales, according to an estimate by Lions Gate.

The weekend take is the third-biggest in Hollywood history, blowing past the blockbuster hauls of the Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean and Twilight movies, among others, reported E! Online.

The movie’s success brings the first blockbuster franchise to Lions Gate, a smaller Hollywood studio best-known previously for the “Saw” horror series and comedian Tyler Perry’s films.

The post-apocalyptic movie set records for highest opening of a non-sequel film and biggest debut outside the summer blockbuster season.

“The first movie in a franchise, to post a number like this, is really insane. There is no other word for it,” said Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com.

“‘Harry Potter’ had seven movies before it got to that point, and ‘Dark Knight’ had years and years of building the Batman brand. This movie comes and hangs with them in the same league,” Contrino added.

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ opened with $169.2 million domestically over its opening weekend, while ‘Dark Knight’ took in $158.4 million, reports say.

‘Hunger Games’ is a survival drama based on the first of three novels wrote by Suzanne Collins. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, a teen girl who fights in a televised battle-to-the-death ordered by her society’s rulers. Everdeen becomes a beacon of hope for freedom against the totalitarian government.

The film opened at midnight Friday, taking in nearly $20 million from those screenings alone. By the end of its first day, it had collected $68 million, the fifth-biggest single and opening-day grosses ever. On Saturday, it collected another $51 million. Lionsgate was calling for a $36 million Sunday.

The movie has received plenty reviews on Monday and which offered overwhelming applause for the film directed by Gary Ross.

Christy Lemire, Associated Press, wrote: “‘The Hunger Games’ runs nearly two and a half hours in length but is the rare film that never drags and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It could keep running as long as Katniss does, and we’d want to be right there every heart-pounding step of the way.”

Olly Richards, Empire Magazine: “When a series has sold millions of copies, as Suzanne Collins’ trilogy has, the default position is to produce something that will look just as readers imagined, to show what we were all thinking, rather than offer something nobody had considered.”

She kept on talking: “’The Hunger Games’ as a novel has been dissected, expanded and retooled into something intelligent, immersive and powerfully current.”

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: “It’s better and scarier than its source book, and aims an angry eye at our bloodthirsty, watch-anything-and-cheer culture.” Neumaier gives it five out of five stars.

Among the holdovers of Box Office are Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s ’21 Jump Street’ (second place, $21.3 million) and Dr. Suess’ ‘The Lorax’ (third place, $13.1 million) held up well, all things considered, and pushed their domestic totals to $71.1 million and $177.3 million, respectively. You can check the whole list of weekend openings at Box Office Mojo.

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