"The Hunger Games" is off to a record-breaking start, grossing $19.7 million in midnight shows, according to studio estimates.
The represents the highest midnight gross for a non-sequel in history. It also makes "The Hunger Games" the seventh biggest midnight debut of all time.
The hotly anticipated Lionsgate film racked up those impressive numbers across 2,565 midnight locations.
The film is expected to gross as much as $125 million over the weekend.
If it reaches that mark, "The Hunger Games" will be the biggest March debut ever, surpassing “Alice in Wonderland,” which opened to more than $116 million in 2010.
Though it is a sizzling number, "The Hunger Games" falls short of the midnight grosses generated by other tentpole films.
Also read: 'Hunger Games' Sequel Set for 2013 Release
Fans of Collins' dystopian novel turned out in droves, but the film could not match the all-time record set last summer by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2." The boy wizard sequel banked $43.5 million during midnight showings in 3,800 locations.
It also fails to match another young adult favorite. "The Hunger Games" did not reach the $30.2 million midnight opening enjoyed last summer by "The Twilight Saga-Breaking Dawn Part 1," which screened in 3,521 locations.
However, those numbers were hit several installments into both franchises and on far more screens.
"The Hunger Games" centers on a group of children who are selected to participate in a televised battle to the death. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth star in the Gary Ross film.
Lionsgate spent roughly $80 million after tax incentives to bring Collins vision of a harsh and unforgiving future to the big screen.
"The Hunger Games" now expands to 4,137 locations, as it chases "Alice"s' record and attempts to propel Lionsgate into the big league.