1. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate): $155 million in 4,137 theaters
Children killing children: Never before have three words sent such shivers of sheer ecstasy up the spines of Hollywood executives, as the big-screen adaptations of Suzanne Collins' blockbuster young-adult book series shattered all expectations in its opening weekend. It started massive, with a $20 million haul from 2,000 sold-out midnight screenings, but then held far better than anticipated, dropping just 25 percent from Friday to Saturday. (Twilight and Harry Potter, by comparison, fall closer to 50 to 60 percent in the same time frame.) The movie played equally well among females and males -- unlike the girl-friendly Twilight series -- but skewed young, with half the audiences under the age of 25, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In the end, The Hunger Games had the third-biggest weekend opening ever, behind The Dark Knight ($158 million) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169 million). That makes it the biggest non-sequel opening, too. This movie is big, and the A+ CinemaScore grade given it by its audience of devotees ensures the sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, could do even better.