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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

In the end, there could only be one winner from the weekend box office arena. And it was a box office slaughter.

Lionsgate Film’s “The Hunger Games” premiered in the top spot with an estimated $155 million over the weekend.

It was the third highest total in history and the highest ever for a non-sequel for a weekend. Only last year’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2” with $169.2 million and 2008’s “The Dark Knight” with $158.4 million had higher openings.

In addition, the film also ranked fifth in the all-time list for fifth-best opening day on Friday with $68.25 million. The film received a very strong CinemaScore from the audiences with an “A” and Rotten Tomatoes’ critic score was at 86 percent.

Many analysts pegged the projected $78-million budgeted film to earn from $135 to $140 million over the weekend.

The anticipated Gary Ross-film starred Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. It is adapted from a Suzanne Collin’s novel about a young girl that must fight to the death on live television.

In second place, comedy “21 Jump Street” dropped to $21.3 million, a decrease of 41.3 million from the previous weekend.

“Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” earned $13.1 million for third place. It was a 42.5 percent drop from the previous weekend, but its total four-week gross is over $177.3 million.

Fourth place’s “John Carter” had a steep drop of 63.1 percent to earn $5 million. And in fifth place, “Act of Valor” garnered $2 million, a drop of 44.8 percent from the previous weekend.

For next weekend, “The Hunger Games” will face many box office challengers including the sequel “Wrath of the Titans,” “Mirror Mirror” and hockey comedy “Goon.”

Here is the WEEKEND BOX OFFICE REPORT for March 23-25, 2012:

1. The Hunger Games $155 million
2. 21 Jump Street $21.3 million
3. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax $13.1 million
4. John Carter $5 million
5. Act of Valor $2 million
6. Project X $1.95 million
7. A Thousand Words $1.925 million
8. October Baby $1.718 million
9. Safe House $1.4 million
10. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $1.373 million

Source: BoxOffice.com, Box Office Mojo

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