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Hunger Games beats NZ box office record

Published: 2:54PM Tuesday March 27, 2012 Source: ONE News / Reuters

The Hunger Games has broken opening weekend box office records in New Zealand for 2012.

The first film, based on Suzanne Collins' book trilogy, grossed $1.6 million, beating opening weekend sales of the first installment from the Twilight series by $1 million and Harry Potter by $100,000.

New Zealand's opening weekend adds to the global earnings of more than $260 million, breaking records for the highest earning non-sequel movie and the highest earning film to be released outside the summer blockbuster season in the United States.

Catching Fire, the second installment from the series, is due out in November 2013.

The film opened around the world last Thursday. New Zealand cinemas had midnight screenings so fans could be among the first to see the film.

Twilight and Harry Potter comparisons

The Hunger Games series is the latest series of novels to become a Hollywood movie franchise, following on the heels of the $2.8 billion box office success of the four Twilight films, based on Stephanie Meyer's vampire romance novels. The final film, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is due in theatres later this year.

Warner Bros Studios' big screen adaptations of JK Rowling's juggernaut collection of Harry Potter novels took in an estimated $7.7 billion with eight films across the worldwide box office, the largest-grossing franchise in history. The film series ended last year.

The Hunger Games, with its heroic characters and love triangles, has been pitted against Twilight and Harry Potter because of its common themes and hype.

The story has already built a fan base among a wide group of readers, although young women make up the core fans. The Hunger Games boasts more than 3 million likes on Facebook and almost 400,000 followers on Twitter.

The young-adult novel follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, portrayed in the film by actress Jennifer Lawrence, who becomes a beacon of hope for the troubled nation of Panem.

It is described as a post-apocalyptic science fiction film in which 24 children are forced into a giant arena for the world to watch them fight to the death on television.