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'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' blazes at box office

'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' earned $135 million on opening day. 'Catching Fire' is the biggest November opening ever.

 Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" has grossed $70.5 million domestically and $64 million internationally, bringing its total to $135 million, the studio reported on Saturday.

Numbers were from Friday's opening day, but includes some scattered preview shows on Thursday night. The sequel gained $25.3 million from Thursday night screenings.

Totals for "Catching Fire" are an expected to reach $150 million domestically over the weekend, though some reports estimated a $170 million opener.

The impressive opening of "Catching Fire" will mark the biggest November opening ever and the eighth-highest domestic opening to date. "The Hunger Games," with $67.3 million its opening night, was the sixth-largest weekend opener with $152.5 million. "The Avengers" sits at No. 1 with $207.4 million.

The Christian Science Monitor movie critic Peter Rainer says the second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy is a better movie than the first.

This second in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, directed by Francis Lawrence, has many of the virtues and somewhat fewer defects as its predecessor (which was directed by Gary Ross). The action is smoothly sustained, the dystopian weirdness is alternately creepy and somewhat less cloying, and Jennifer Lawrence is, if anything, even stronger in the role. She’s a movie star who can really act – a fearsome combo. Stanley Tucci is back, his teeth bigger and whiter than ever, as TV personality Caesar Flickerman, and there’s a welcome new addition to the zoo: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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