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Hunger Games' eyes huge weekend

2012-03-24 09:40
Los Angeles - Teen film phenomenon The Hunger Games could make more than $140m on its opening weekend at the US box office, among the top 10 best debuts ever, industry bible Variety reported on Friday.

The post-apocalyptic movie made nearly $20m in midnight screenings alone after fans stayed up late on Thursday to see it first, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said.

Later in the day, Variety said the movie was on course to earn nearly $70m on Friday alone, and more than double that over by Sunday night.

The movie made $19.7m in the midnight screenings. "That's a huge number for an untested property. To come out of a gate that strong is huge," said Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations.

Industry observers have predicted the film could well exceed past contenders for best opening weekend of a March release, passing the $116.1m made by Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, in its first three days in 2010.

The two biggest-grossing openers were both summer releases: the last Harry Potter film took $169m in its first weekend, followed by The Dark Knight with $158m, according to figures released by Box Office Mojo.

The Hunger Games is based on the thriller of the same name by US novelist Suzanne Collins, part of a trilogy that has sold 30m copies worldwide, the latest teen publishing phenomenon in the wake of the Twilight saga.

Set in Panem, a fictional land born of the ashes of a ruined North America, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence as a young girl forced to fight for her life in a Roman circus-style televised blood sport - known as The Hunger Games.

Analysts had forecast the film could make $125m on its debut weekend, but Variety said it looks stronger than that - and could even beat the $141m made by the highest-earning Twilight movie, 2009's New Moon.

"It's all Suzanne Collins," one executive from the film's makers Lionsgate told Variety. "Anybody reads that book, a young girl or young guy, everyone responds overwhelmingly positive to the material. It's a fantastic story."

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