'Hunger Games' vies for US box office record

Teen movie phenomenon "The Hunger Games" is vying to set a US box office record this weekend, after advance sales already put it in the top three, according to a major ticket seller Thursday.

As a tsunami of fans headed to midnight screenings of the post-apocalyptic film, online retailer Fandango said it was selling 10 tickets for the movie every second, with 2,500 screenings already sold out.

By Thursday afternoon, the movie was Fandango's third biggest advance ticket seller of all-time, behind 2009's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" and last year's series-ending "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

The film represented an overwhelming 96 percent of Fandango's ticket sales on Thursday, it said, adding that 62 percent of ticket-buyers plan to see the film more than once on the big screen.

Some 89 percent of fans polled by Fandango said they plan to see the movie on its opening weekend -- fueling speculation the movie could vie for a US box office record.

Industry observers have predicted it could well exceed past contenders for best opening weekend of a March release, passing the $116.1 million that "Alice in Wonderland," starring Johnny Depp, sold over its first three days in 2010.

The two biggest-grossing openers were both summer releases: the final Harry Potter movie took $169 million in its first weekend last July, followed by "The Dark Knight" with $158 million, according to figures released by Box Office Mojo.

"The Hunger Games" is based on the thriller of the same name by US novelist Suzanne Collins, part of a trilogy that has sold 30 million copies worldwide, the latest teen publishing phenomenon in the wake of the "Twilight" saga.

Set in Panem, a fictional land born of the ashes of a ruined North America, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence as a young girl forced to fight for her life in a Roman circus-style televised bloodsport -- known as "The Hunger Games."

Hyped by marketers as a potential new "Twilight" or "Harry Potter," the movie hits screens in France and across much of Europe on Wednesday, followed by a global release on Thursday and Friday.

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