Box Office Report: 'Hunger Games' Finishes Friday With Massive $68.3 Mil

8:37 AM PST 03/24/2012 by Pamela McClintock
Lionsgate
"The Hunger Games"

The Lionsgate movie is on course for a record-breaking $140 million to $150 million debut.

Gary Ross' The Hunger Games grossed a massive $68.3 million at the Friday box office -- the best opening day ever for a nonsequel and the fifth-highest of all time.

Lionsgate's big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' best-selling young-adult novel, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, is headed for a record-breaking $140 million to $150 million debut, giving Lionsgate its first tentpole franchise.

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Friday's performance, which included $19.7 million in Thursday midnight runs, put Hunger Games in the same territory as the Harry Potter and Twilight film series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final installment in that series, holds the record for best opening-day gross ($91.1 million), followed by The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($72.7 million), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn  Part 1 ($71.6 million), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($68.5 million) and now Hunger Games.

Hunger Games drew an A CinemaScore overall on Friday night, with those under the age of 25 giving it a glowing A+ and those over 25 an A-.

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Part of the movie's strength is that it is appealing to males as well as females, unlike the femme-heavy Twilight franchise, another blockbuster film property based on a young-adult book series. Males made up 39 percent of Hunger Games' Friday night audience, while females made 61 percent. It also is playing evenly in terms of age, another boost.

Hunger Games has a good shot at cracking the top five best openings of all time at the domestic box office. Breaking Dawn Part 1 ranks fifth with a $138.1 million debut

And Hunger Games is certain to post the best opening ever for a nonsequel, as well as the best March opener of all time (2010's Alice in Wonderland is the current record holder with $116 million).

Hunger Games, produced by Nina Jacobson, is generating big numbers at Imax theaters, which turned in $1.3 million in Thursday midnight grosses, the best showing for a nonsequel.

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