This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: The Hunger Games is setting the box office alight. And it has got off to an exceptional, record-breaking start.

Lionsgate have done a great job of promoting Gary Ross’ adaptation of the first of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels, and it looks to be paying off in a big way already.

Deadline report that the film’s midnight screenings in the US generated a massive $19.75m. from 2,565 midnight locations, marking the biggest take for a non-sequel film ever. To put it into perspective, they note that The Dark Knight took $18.5m. back in the summer of ’08 in its midnight run, so this is pretty substantial.

The estimated figures have been coming in over the past few weeks, and the most recent figures suggest that the film is expected to top $100m. over the course of the weekend in the US alone – not bad for a film with a budget in the $80-100m. range, making all that back in just three days.

The film is always Lionsgate’s largest release to date, opening in more than 4,000 locations, a number which is still continuing to rise as theatre owners are adding screens every minute. And on top of that, US movie ticket-selling company is reporting that it is selling 12 tickets every second for the film, representing a huge 97% of their sales today.

These figures are clearly more than a little bit overwhelming – a big success was expected, but it’s always nice when a) the expectations are met (and beaten), and b) you get to see concrete figures that are as strong and healthy as these.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax currently has the title of 2012’s biggest box office opening weekend so far, taking in north of $70m. in the US at the start of the month, but that figure will almost certainly beaten as early as half-way through Saturday if these midnight figures are anything to go by.

The Hunger Games, as you’re no doubt well aware, is currently in cinemas, and will almost certainly be playing in a cinema near you, wherever you’re reading this in the world (with the exception of South Korea, Lithuania, South Africa, Spain, Italy, and Japan, who will be getting the film a little later than everyone else). For all our coverage of the film so far, including the most recent interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, and Lenny Kravitz, just click right here.