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Hunger Games box office results: $155 million opening third largest in history

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The Hunger Games smashed all competitors at the box office this weekend, raking in $155 million

The Hunger Games thundered to the third best debut in history this weekend, with $155 million, charging the box office and launching a franchise that could challenge the Twilight series.

Hunger’s haul exceeded most analysts’ highest expectations and marked a huge opening for a first-time film. Of the two films with bigger debuts, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 ($169.1 million) and The Dark Knight ($158 million), both are sequels.

The film, based on Suzanne Collins’ popular trilogy and starring Jennifer Lawrence, broke from the gate at midnight Friday, earning $19.7 million and seventh place in the all-time midnight screening record books. Hallows remains the runaway champ, collecting $43.5 million in its midnight shows last year.

Still, Hunger mustered plenty to score the highest debut on record for March, besting Alice in Wonderland’s $116.1 million.

Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru says that teen fans of the 2008 novel propelled the hit. “A massive built-in audience has been hungry for this movie,” he says.

In the long run, Pandya says, the Hunger trilogy could challenge the Twilight series by appealing to both genders.

“One major difference is that (Hunger) has more male appeal,” he says, adding that distributor Lionsgate “has been emphasizing the action in its male-skewing TV spots, and the romance is a minor part of the story, anyway.”

Males and females responded strongly to the film, promising a healthy run through March and much of April. A whopping 95% of moviegoers recommended the movie, according to survey site Critics weren’t far behind; 86% of reviewers gave it a thumbs-up, the site says.

The studio plans to release part two, Catching Fire, on Nov. 22, 2013. While details haven’t been finalized on future installments, analysts say at least a three-part series is inevitable.

Hunger “is the first true event film of 2012,” says Tim Briody of “This is largely unprecedented for any franchise, much less a new one. It’s the sort of behavior you’d expect from a sequel, not the first entry in an unproven series.”Hunger’s numbers came despite the Sweet 16 tournament games of the NCAA basketball championship.

No studio challenged Hunger this weekend, leaving the top of the box office to holdovers.

The remake comedy 21 Jump Street took second with $21.3 million, followed by The Lorax with $13.1 million.

John Carter, the $250 million sci-fi flop, was fourth with $5 million. The fantasy film has done $62.3 million in three weeks.

The action film Act of Valor rounded out the top five with $2.1 million.

Hunger helped propel movie attendance to 22% over the same period last year.

Final figures are due Monday.

Source: Montreal Gazette

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