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'Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1' takes off with $17 million Thursday

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1' opened with $17 million in ticket sales

Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1" opened with $17 million in ticket sales from Thursday night showings, according to studio estimates. 

That's down about 33% from the $25.25 million the franchise's second installment "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" took in from its Thursday previews last year. However, it's still by far the biggest Thursday night debut of 2014. 

The next highest came from Disney's "Guardians of the Galaxy," which nabbed $11.2 million. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" clocked in at $10.2 million, while Warner Bros.' "Godzilla" posted $9.3 million.

"Mockingjay -- Part 1," the first installment of the two-part series finale, is expected to secure the biggest debut weekend for a movie in the U.S. so far this year. Going into the weekend, analysts predicted it could gross $150 million or more. 

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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