Box Office: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay' Could Top $150M in U.S. Debut

Jennifer Lawrence returns to the big screen as Katniss Everdeen on Nov. 21

Lionsgate's YA film franchise The Hunger Games is showing no signs of fatigue.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 popped up on tracking Thursday to huge numbers and has every chance of matching the $158.2 million North American debut of sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a year ago.

Either way, Mockingjay — Part 1, opening in theaters Nov. 21, is destined to score the top launch of the year, which has been decidedly tepid when it comes to mega openings. The current 2014 record-holder is Transformers: Age of Extinction at $100 million.

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While interest in Mockingjay — Part 1 is on par with Catching Fire, tracking services are giving a preliminary opening number in the $130 million range, according to insiders. But with three weeks left before the film rolls out, there is plenty of room for that estimate to grow.

Lionsgate decided to split Suzanne Collins' final book in the The Hunger Games trilogy into two films, much as it did with the final book in the Twilight series.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, Mockingjay — Part 1 sees the return of Jennifer Lawrence as the heroine Katniss Everdeen, along with franchise regulars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Julianne Moore is among the new castmembers.

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Catching Fire earned $864.6 million worldwide, including $439.9 million internationally. In 2012, The Hunger Games opened to $152.5 million on its way to global earnings of $691.2 million.

Tickets for Mockingjay — Part 1 went on sale Wednesday, and quickly became Fandango and MovieTickets.com's top-selling title of the year to date. On MovieTickets.com, Mockingjay sold more advance tickets on its first day than Catching Fire did last year.

Oct. 30, 8:47 a.m. Updated with more info about first-day sales on MovieTickets.com

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