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"Hunger Games" sets US box office record

March 27, 2012

Fans line up to see the midnight shows of “The Hunger Games,” at the 34th Street Loews AMC Theatre, Thursday, March 22, 2012, in New York. The film, about children who are forced to compete in a live televised death match in the not-too-distant future, is based on the popular young adult book series by Suzanne Collins. - AP Photo

LOS ANGELES: The highly anticipated action film phenomenon “The Hunger Games” set a record at the North American box office with debut weekend sales of $152.5 million, industry figures confirmed Monday.

The movie, about one teenage girl's fight to win a death match reality show in a post-apocalyptic world, enjoyed the biggest ever opening weekend for a non-sequel film, said box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Armies of fans had flocked from minutes after midnight Friday to see the movie, based on a book for young adults by Suzanne Collins, in which children compete to the death on live television in a dystopian future.

Estimates Sunday had put its box office earnings at $155 million, but the figure was cut slightly with full takings counted for the movie by Santa Monica-based Lionsgate films.

The picture also scored the third biggest movie opening ever, after last year's series-climaxing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2” ($169 million) and the 2008 Batman movie “The Dark Knight” ($158 million).

In a distant second on the weekend box office were the youthful policemen of 1980s remake “21 Jump Street,” which pulled in $20.5 million on its second weekend in theaters.

The film with underachieving cops Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, sent on an undercover counternarcotics mission at a high school, had a two-week haul of $70.2 million.

Third was the animated film “Dr. Seuss' The Lorax” with a $13.2 million weekend haul and $177.4 million in the bank after four weekends on the big screen.

Fourth was the Disney critical flop – and huge loss-maker – “John Carter,” based on books by “Tarzan” author Edgar Rice Burroughs. The film about an ex-Civil War soldier magically transported to Mars earned $5 million.

Disney earlier announced that it expected to lose $200 million on the movie in its second fiscal quarter.

Rounding off the top 10 are “Act Of Valor” ($2 million), “Project X” ($2 million), “A Thousand Words” ($2 million), “October Baby” in its opening weekend ($1.7 million), “Safe House” ($1.4 million) and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” ($1.4 million).