Can 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Cross $175 Million in North American Debut?

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

The sequel is tracking to score the No. 2 three-day opening of all time after the $207.4 million earned by "The Avengers."

Christmas looks to have come two months early for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Lionsgate's sequel, hitting theaters Nov. 22, is generating massive interest and could easily cross the $175 million mark in its debut, eclipsing the $174.1 million launch of Iron Man 3 earlier this year to score the No. 2 three-day opening of all time after The Avengers ($207.4 million).

Lionsgate insiders are being more conservative, suggesting it will open in the $140 million to $150 million range.

PHOTOS: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire': The Character Posters

However, sequels to a blockbuster generally do notably more business. The first Twilight took in $69.6 million; a year later, Twilight: New Moon took in more than double that amount ($142.8 million). That's why more bullish observers believe Catching Fire could even cross $190 million.

The first Hunger Games opened to a whopping $152.5 million in March 2012, transforming the YA adaptation of Suzanne Collins' dystopian book series into an instant film franchise (the movie went on to gross $691.2 million worldwide, including $408 million domestically).

Catching Fire, costing far more to make than the first film ($130 million-plus versus $78 million), returns most of the original cast, including Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in the lead roles. Liam Hemsworth and Elizabeth Banks also return.

The sequel does have a new director, Francis Lawrence. His credits include Water for Elephants and I Am Legend.