THE HUNGER GAMES, Jennifer Lawrence

Murray Close/Lionsgate

The Hunger Games has drawn its first box-office number, and it's a big one: $19.7 million.

That's how much the buzz film grossed from Friday midnight screenings, its studio estimated this morning.

So, where did it rank against the all-time night-owl hits, almost all of which happen to be titled either Harry Potter or Twilight?

It ranked—and "that's huge," as editor Phil Contrino said. 

Of Hollywood's top 10 midnight grossers, of which The Hunger Games is now one, it's the only nonsequel.

Or to put it another way, its 12 a.m. debut is the biggest ever for a franchise-starter.

The Hunger Games' seventh-place showing puts it a ways off from the final Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and the most recent Twilight, Breaking DawnPart 1, but ahead of Christopher Nolan's 2008 blockbuster, The Dark Knight, and the final Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith.

By Sunday, the dystopian wonder is expected to have grossed $100 million—at the least. Reports of thousands upon thousands of sold-out screenings have fueled guesstimates of a $140-$150 million debut. And Contrino, for one, didn't see anything in the midnight showings to dissuade even the most enthusiastic prognostications. 

"It's still absolutely within the realm of possibility," said Contrino, whose own site is calling for a $125 million opening weekend.

All in all, not bad for a movie not titled either Harry Potter or Twilight.

Here's a complete rundown of the top 10 all-time midnight debuts, as compiled per stats:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, $43.5 million
  2. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1, $30.3 million
  3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, $30 million
  4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon, $26.3 million
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, $24 million
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, $22.2 million
  7. The Hunger Games, $19.7 million
  8. The Dark Knight, $18.5 million
  9. Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith, $16.9 million
  10. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, $16.6 million

(Originally published at 9:46 a.m. PT on March 23, 2012.)

PHOTOS: The Hunger Games Premiere

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