We all knew The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was going to take over the box office, but it might be an even bigger one than expected. Catching Fire is an appropriate title, given how fast the buzz has spread, giving the movie a head start of $25.25 million in the US, according to Deadline.

Jennifer Lawrence, Catching Fire Still
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, looking fierce while being cold, presumably.

These are just the earnings from early screenings on Thursday as well. At its current pace, the Catching Fire mania is set to beat the previous record holder for December, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. The 2009 film was also a young adult wonder, one of the first to kick start the current Hollywood trend.

Liam Hemsworth, Catching Fire Still
Liam Hemsworth as Gale, looking fierce, while being arrested.

To beat New Moon, the Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson starring film will have to top $142.2 million, which fits the predictions of both Deadline and Box Office Mojo. In fact, Deadline is predicting a comfortable lead for Catching Fire, with anywhere between $160 and $180 million in domestic earnings by the end of the weekend. This is in part due to the IMAX screenings and the wide release (the film is showing in 4163 theatres across the UK).

Add to that the current estimate of $32 million grossed internationally – the film is out in 43 countries and has been out in Brazil for a whole week – and we have the makings of that rare beast, the autumn blockbuster. And let’s not forget that Catching Fire opens in 63 additional countries over the weekend. Box Office Mojo are slightly more conservative in their estimate.

Watch the Catching Fire trailer below.

Keeping in mind that Catching Fire is a 2D only release, the website is predicting weekend profits of around $160. This is still higher than the first installment in the series, which opened to $152.2 million last year, but not that much higher. The point is that, once the weekend is over and the dust settles, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, made on an overblown $130 million budget, is set to comfortably top that and make a lot of money for a lot of people. It’s a bit early to say, but there have even been mentions of the B-word. Billion. We mean billion.

Catching Fire Poster
Defeat the evil Capitol by... buying movie tickets.