APphoto_Film Review The Hunger Games Catching Fire

Donald Sutherland as President Snow in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." (Murray Close / Lionsgate / September 28, 2012)

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" burned up the box office Friday, bringing its total U.S. ticket sales to $70.5 million, according to Lionsgate, the film's distributor. That figure for the Jennifer Lawrence-starring sci-fi action movie, which includes the money brought in by Thursday night showings, puts the sequel on pace to break the record for the biggest November opening ever.

"Catching Fire's" box office take so far is slightly better than the first "Hunger Games," which took in $67.3 million through its opening Friday last year and went on to make $152 million in its first weekend. If "Catching Fire" keeps the tempo, it will unseat "Twilight Saga: New Moon" for the November record, but come up shy of early predictions that it would threaten "Iron Man 3" for the biggest opening of the year. "Iron Man 3" drew $174 million in its opening.

REVIEW: 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' burns bright with fiery Katniss

"Catching Fire" looks like it will have no trouble catching on with audiences. It drew an "A" grade from CinemaScore, a research firm that polls moviegoers who have seen the film, portending a strong word-of-mouth. It also looks like the new movie is drawing a broader audience than its predecessor. For the under-25 crowd, the audience has been evenly split between men and women, compared with the first film, which skewed more female. 

The film is drawing audiences overseas, generating $64 million in ticket sales through Friday from the 65 countries it's now playing in. 

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