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Hunger Games sets US box office record
The Hunger Games. Picture: Supplied.

The highly anticipated action film phenomenon The Hunger Games set a record at the North American box office with debut weekend sales of $US152.5 million ($A145.18 million), industry figures confirmed on Monday.

The movie, about one teenage girl's fight to win a death match reality show in a post-apocalyptic world, enjoyed the biggest-ever opening weekend for a non-sequel film, said box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Armies of fans had flocked from minutes after midnight on Friday to see the movie, based on a book for young adults by Suzanne Collins, in which children compete to the death on live television in a dystopian future.

Estimates on Sunday had put its box office earnings at $US155 million, but the figure was cut slightly with full takings counted for the movie by Santa Monica-based Lionsgate films.

The picture also scored the third biggest movie opening ever, after last year's series-climaxing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 ($US169 million) and the 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight ($US158 million).

In a distant second on the weekend box office were the youthful policemen of 1980s remake 21 Jump Street, which pulled in $US20.5 million on its second weekend in theatres.

The film with underachieving cops Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, sent on an undercover counternarcotics mission at a high school, had a two-week haul of $US70.2 million.

Third was the animated film Dr. Seuss' The Lorax with a $US13.2 million weekend haul and $US177.4 million in the bank after four weekends on the big screen.

Fourth was the Disney critical flop - and huge loss-maker - John Carter, based on books by Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs. The film about an ex-Civil War soldier magically transported to Mars earned $US5 million.

Disney earlier announced that it expected to lose $US200 million on the movie in its second fiscal quarter.

Rounding off the top 10 are Act Of Valor ($US2 million), Project X ($US2 million), A Thousand Words ($US2 million), October Baby in its opening weekend ($US1.7 million), Safe House ($US1.4 million) and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island ($US1.4 million).