Dystopian teen drama The Hunger Games broke box office records when it opened in the US this weekend. It was expected that the film would entice thousands of fans to part with their hard-earned cash, but nobody could have predicted just how popular it would prove. With $155 million (£98 million) raked in over the three day opening weekend, distributors Lionsgate are certainly having a very happy Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is now the proud owner of the highest opening weekend total ever for a non-sequel. It is also the third highest opening weekend total of all time, beaten only by The Dark Knight ($158.4 million) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.2 million). It is estimated that the film took in another $59 million overseas.

Due to the fact that it is adapted from the first in a series of best-selling young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games has been repeatedly compared to the teen vampire romance franchise Twilight. Now that the figures have started to come in, more comparisons are undoubtedly on their way; unfortunately for the producers of Twilight (who must be holed up in Hollywood gnashing their teeth at this very moment) there is simply no comparison between the two as far as takings are concerned. The Hunger Games has left the opening total of every single Twilight film so far (the first of which took in a relatively paltry $69.6 million) completely in the shade.

Responding to the unprecedented amounts of revenue being generated by The Hunger Games, shares of Lionsgate Entertainment Corporation have reached an all-time high, jumping 5% to $15.25. This is in sharp contrast to Disney, which has just announced an expected loss of $200 million on epic sci-fi flop, John Carter.

The Hunger Games has now become the new movie series to beat. Threatening to knock both the Twilight and Harry Potter films off their pedestals (and with three more sequels still to come), it looks as though The Hunger Games may turn into a billion dollar franchise within the next few years.

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