Box Office: 'The Hunger Games' scores the largest non-sequel debut ever with $155 million
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "The Hunger Games" has filled fan appetites with a $155 million opening weekend that puts it near the top of the domestic record book.
The huge haul marks the third-best debut ever in terms of revenue, behind the $169.2 million opening for last year's "Harry Potter" finale and the $158.4 million opening of 2008's "The Dark Knight."
"Harry Potter" and "Batman" were well-established franchises. "The Hunger Games" set a revenue record for a non-sequel.
It also was by far the biggest start for a film opening outside the busy summer and holiday seasons. According to Sunday studio estimates, "The Hunger Games" came in nearly $40 million ahead of the previous March record-holder, 2010's "Alice in Wonderland" at $116.1 million.
"The Hunger Games" slid into the No. 3 spot on the domestic revenue chart ahead of "Spider-Man 3," which opened with $151.1 million in 2007. Factoring in today's higher tickets prices, "The Hunger Games" sold fewer tickets over opening weekend than "Spider-Man 3," though.
With a broader fan base than the "Twilight" franchise, "The Hunger Games" pulled in bigger crowds than the top-grossing installment of that series. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" leads that franchise with a $142.8 million opening weekend in 2009.
Women and girls have made up as much as 80 percent of the audience for the "Twilight" flicks. Though it features a female lead, "The Hunger Games" drew more balanced crowds, with girls and women accounting for 61 percent of audiences, according to distributor Lionsgate.
Despite its teen fan base, "The Hunger Games" also did well among older moviegoers. Fans 25 and older made up 56 percent of the crowds.
"The Hunger Games" stars Jennifer Lawrence as a teen who is one of 24 youths forced to compete in a televised death match in a post-apocalyptic North American society.
The film is based on the first novel in the best-selling trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Lionsgate plans to release part two, "Catching Fire," in November 2013.Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.