When I was out at an advance screening of ‘Hunger Games’ last evening, I knew that four of the six midnight showings had already sold out and lines were already forming at 3pm for the premiere, so I knew it was going to be a big hit… but I had no idea how big!

Deadline reports that the midnight showings brought in a record-breaking $19.5 million! That places ‘The Hunger Games’ as the highest-grossing non-sequel midnight opening of all time and the seventh highest midnight opening over all. Yes… that means that the movie even toppled the midnight opening of ‘The Dark Knight’, which only brought in $18.5 million.

With that kind of money coming in, theaters around the country are doing their best to keep staffed and prepped so that they can run the movie as much as possible and there are new screenings being added at this very moment. This makes ‘Hunger Games’ the largest release in Lionsgate’s history with over 4,127 theaters running the movie (and that’s only in the US). When you factor in the worldwide showings, this thing is taking off like a rocket!

According to that same report, the online ticket service Fandango was selling 12 ‘Hunger Games’ tickets every second this morning, accounting for 97% of today’s ticket sales overall on the service. Fandango did a poll of the ‘Hunger Games’ ticket-buying audience and found that 89% will see the film opening weekend, 62% will see it more than once in theaters, and 54% were going with a group of at least three friends. That’s a bloody lot of tickets!

According to some predictions, ‘Hunger Games’ could bring in upwards of $130 million for its opening weekend, but I expect that it’ll be much more than that. Either way, ‘Hunger Games’ has already proven a big win for Lionsgate Pictures and this big-budget opening is an even bigger win for fans of the ‘Hunger Games’ book series since it almost cements the inevitable sequels.