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Catching Fire Box Office: Hunger Games Sequel Opens to Hot $25.3 Million

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Murray Close/Lionsgate

Catching Fire is, as expected, burning up the box office. 

The Hunger Games sequel, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, debuted in theaters Thursday night and early Friday, grossing $25.3 million, its studio estimated.

"It's a very, very strong number," BoxOffice.com analyst Phil Contrino said Friday.  

It tops the $21 million that the Superman reboot Man of Steel grossed in sneaks in June, and the $15.6 million that Iron Man 3 posted in May.

Man of Steel went on to score $116.6 million by the end of its first three full days; Iron Man 3, a monstrous $174.1 million, the second-biggest debut of all-time. 

NEWS: Catching Fire on track for huge box-office weekend

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Murray Close/Lionsgate

2012's The Hunger Games, the first film in the dystopian sci-fi series based on author Suzanne Collins' young-adult series of the same name, grossed roughly $20 million on its sneak night en route to a blockbuster $152.5 million opening weekend.

Heading into Thursday, Catching Fire had been pegged to top $160 million by the end of the weekend. Contrino said it was wise to hold onto that projection, no matter how big the sequel's sneak night was.

PHOTOS: Catching Fire movie pics

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Murray Close/Lionsgate

"You don't know how many die-hard fans rushed out," Contrino said. "But [its performance] certainly bodes well."

In addition to the United States and Canada, Catching Fire is opening this weekend in key movie markets such as China, Russia and the United Kingdom. Overall, the early word from the international markets is encouraging for Lawrence and company. The studio says the sequel is outperforming The Hunger Games by more than double. 

PHOTOS: Catching Fire Premieres

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