It’s official: The Hunger Games has opened with the strongest box office of 2012 so far, and one of the biggest openings of all time, taking more than 0m. in North America alone.

On Friday, we heard that its midnight run across the Atlantictook a record-breaking $19.75m., the highest ever take from a non-sequel ever. And as the weekend continued, that figure just rose and rose and rose.

In the US and Canada, it went on to take an estimated $155m., maintaining the highest ever opening weekend for a non-sequel, and the third-highest opening of all time – sitting in third place only behind The Dark Knight ($158m.) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($169m.).

Lionsgate of course must be over the moon with such a mammoth success, beating all expectations and predictions we’d been hearing about in recent months. A month before its release, the figures were expected to hit $70m. Two weeks before, that was raised to $100-120m. And now the weekend has finally hit, the bar has gone even higher to more than $150m.

Added to that, the film has also made an estimated further $59.3m. internationally, bringing its total box office up to $214m. worldwide, which is an absolutely tremendous success for just three days of screenings.

The film has been getting huge word-of-mouth buzz for some time now, growing exponentially in the final few weeks leading up to the release, and it looks like all the studio’s efforts at promoting the film have paid off in a big way.

If you’re yet to see the film, it looks like this is one many people will be talking about, so it may be in your interests to catch it the first chance you get – you can read Ben’s review of the film here to see what he thought, as well as all our coverage of the film right here.

Simon Beaufoy has already been set to pen the sequel, Chasing Fire, and you can be sure that with a three-day opening as big as this, that sequel will have no problem getting made and brought to the big screen whatsoever. Given that sequels of these kinds of franchises often tend to buck the trend and outperform their predecessors, it will be interesting to see how high the next two films of Suzanne Collins’ original trilogy will go in years to come.

Source: Variety.