UPDATE: Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games grossed a confirmed $152.5m down from the estimated $155m and beat the opening weekend of every Twilight film to date and secured the third biggest launch of all time, the biggest non-sequel debut and the biggest March debut to signal the arrival of the next monster pop culture franchise.

The first adaptation from the trilogy of dystopian bestsellers by Suzanne Collins cost around $80m to produce and overtook the lifetime gross of Fahrenheit 9/11 on $119.2m to become Lionsgate’s biggest release after a mere two days.

The Hunger Games was active in 4,137 North American theatres powered by that mighty $19.75m midnight result and combined with the $59.3m international tally for a $214.3m worldwide launch. The domestic result comprised $67.3m on Friday, $50.4m on Saturday and $34.9m on Sunday.

Gary Ross directed the story of a rebellious young girl from an impoverished background who is sent to compete in a gladiatorial reality TV show orchestrated by a brutal regime. Jennifer Lawrence stars as the heroine Katniss Everdeen alongside Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Hemsworth.

For the record the two biggest debuts at the North American box office remain Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 on $169.2m in July 2011 and The Dark Knight on $158.4m in July 2008.

Trailing way behind in second place was MGM-Sony’s action comedy 21 Jump Street, which in its second weekend added $21.3m in its second weekend to reach a commendable $71.1m while Universal’s family hit The Lorax in third place stands at $177.3m after four and Disney’s flop John Carter in fourth place has reached $62.3m after three weekends.

The only other new top ten entry apart from The Hunger Games was Samuel Goldwyn’s drama October Baby, which arrived in eighth place on $1.7m.

SPC opened its festival smash The Raid: Redemption on $221,000 from 14 theatres for a highly respectable $15,786 average while Music Box opened Terence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea on $120,000 from 29. The period romance starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston premiered in Toronto last autumn and is already being spoken of as a possible awards contender.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Relativity’s Snow White fantasy Mirror Mirror from Tarsem starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer and Warner Bros’ action sequel Wrath Of The Titans with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Gemma Arterton.

Estimated Top 10 North America Mar 23-25 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Lionsgate $155m –

2 (1) 21 Jump Street (Sony-MGM) SPRI $21.3m $71.1m

3 (2) Dr Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal) UPI $13.1m $177.3m

4 (3) John Carter (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $5m $62.3m

5 (5) Act Of Valor (Relativity) Relativity $2.1m $65.9m

6 (4) Project X (Warner Bros) WBPI $1.95m $51.8m

7 (6) A Thousand Words (Paramount-Dwks) PPI $1.925m $14.9m

8 (-) October Baby (2012) (Samuel Goldwyn) $1.7m –

9 (7) Safe House (Universal) UPI $1.4m $122.6m

10 (8) Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Bros-New Line) WBPI $1.4m $97.2m