Box Office Report: 'Hunger Games' Shattering Records, Could Open to $150 Million

12:11 PM PST 03/23/2012 by Pamela McClintock
Lionsgate
"The Hunger Games"

The book-to-film adaptation is approaching the final "Harry Potter" pic in terms of Friday matinee business and could gross $70 million on its first day.

Matinee numbers are so strong for The Hunger Games that box office observers can't keep up.

By noon on Friday PDT, the Lionsgate movie -- based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling young adult novel and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth -- was nearing the same level of matinee business enjoyed by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

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Hunger Games had already amassed nearly $40 million — including a stellar $19.7 million in midnight runs — an eye-popping number for so early in the day. Based on those early returns, box office observers now believe Hunger Games could open to between $140 and $150 miillion.

Deathly Hallows grossed $91 million on its first day, although that included a record $43.5 million in midnight runs. The film went on to score a $169.2 opening, an all-time best.

The difference in midnight grosses for the two movies means that Hunger Games probably probably won't reach $90 million on Friday or $169.2 million for the weekend, although all bets are off considering how well it is performing.

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Hunger Games has every chance of cracking the top five list of all time-best openings at the domestic box office. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 currently ranks at No. 5 with a $138.1 million debut (Hunger Games was pacing well ahead of that film so far in terms of matinee traffic).

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

Hunger Games, directed by Gary Ross and produced by Nina Jacobson, is generating big numbers for IMAX theaters, which turned in $1.3 million in midnight grosses, the best showing for a non-sequel.

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