POSTED: Friday, March 23, 2012 - 8:48pm
UPDATED: Friday, March 23, 2012 - 8:59pm
For lots of moviegoers around the country, Thursday was a late night.
The debut of "The Hunger Games" brought out both the novel's fans as well as the uninitiated.
"I have not read the books, but the movie was awesome," Stephanie Franke said after catching the midnight debut.
Indeed, the futuristic story of teens forced into a televised fight to the death has gotten largely positive reviews.
It's poised to earn easily more than $100 million this weekend.
"I think this is a virtual given that it's going to open north of $125 [million]. Some rival studios think $150 [million]," predicts Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan.
While even that larger figure would fall well short of the record opening last year for the Harry Potter finale, "Hunger Games" could get one of the strongest starts ever for a non-sequel.
"I think people are going to be shocked at a) how strong this opens this weekend and b) how abnormally strong it holds next weekend. I think this will hold better than Twilight," Harrigan says.
That's in part because "Hunger Games" faces few heavyweight film competitors in the coming weeks, and its appeal is expected to extend beyond young adult women.
"It got great reviews and we didn't read the book, and we were like, it's such a good story, we should just go check it out anyway," said moviegoer Phil Fox.
Millions of others are likely to feel the same way this weekend.
At minimum, "The Hunger Games" is seen as almost certain to top the record for biggest
March opening ever.
That's currently held by "Alice in Wonderland", which took in $116 million in 2010.
The all time record for best opening weekend is $169.2 million.
That was for part two of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" last year.