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

"The Hunger Games"
"The Hunger Games"

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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