The second installment of The Hunger Games franchise torched the weekend box office like nobody’s business, with Catching Fire generating $161.1 million in North American ticket sales between Thursday and Sunday.

But it also marked a significant broadening in its audience appeal, with Catching Fire attendees being 59 percent female, compared to The Hunger Games’ opening-weekend audience, which was 71 percent female. That marked change is partly due to the rigorous marketing around Catching Fire — a higher budget, more battle scenes shown, and the Imax affiliation all boosted the film’s marketing campaign. Jennifer Lawrence’s star power didn’t hurt either.

Lionsgate states that Catching Fire also drew crowds that were more balanced between “young” and “old” — in movie industry terms, those under and over the age of 25. Hunger Games had a higher share of “old” audience members.

This wider range of audience helped Catching Fire set an industry record for the biggest November domestic opening. The previous record-holder was The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), which took in $155.5 million.

With an 89% positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com, and an additional weekend foreign gross of $146.6 million, Catching Fire is burning bright.

(Via NY Times and Box Office Mojo)

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