FILM The Hunger Games raked in a massive $155m (€117m) on its opening weekend in the US, proving female action heroes can attract big audiences.
The movie generated the third-biggest opening weekend ever, just behind The Dark Knight and the last Harry Potter film.
The Hunger Games, which set a record as the biggest opening ever for a non-sequel, illustrates how Hollywood under- appreciates audiences' acceptance of female action heroes, according to Phil Contrino, editor of researcher Boxoffice.com.
"People were hungry for something like this," Contrino said in an interview. "Now everyone will be looking for the next Hunger Games instead of every male-driven, Will Smith action film," he said.
The Hunger Games may go on to capture $400m (¤300m) domestically.
The movie, which stars 21-year-old Jennifer Lawrence as an arrow-slinging killing machine, sold $59m (¤44m) of tickets outside the US and Canada, and was first in almost all of its 67 markets,
The film is based on the 2008 young-adult novel with 11 million copies in print.
The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic North America and revolves around children who are forced to fight to the death on live television for the benefit of a wealthy ruling class.
The author, Suzanne Collins, said she sought to write a book that both sexes would want to read. "Whenever I write a story, I hope it appeals to both boys and girls," Collins said.
"But maybe in its simplest form, it's having a female protagonist in a gladiator story, which traditionally features a male. It's an unexpected choice."
In marketing the movie, Lions Gate sought to draw in a broad audience, according to David Spitz, executive vice president of distribution for Lions Gate.
"This is a huge number," Mr Spitz said. "You don't get to $155 million without solid support from everybody." The company, run from Santa Monica, California, didn't market the film as a romance, even though two male characters are attracted to the film's heroine, Katniss Everdeen.
A film poster, for example, features a gender-neutral image of a burning pin worn by Everdeen.
The movie's trailer focuses on a scene in which she steps up to replace her younger sister in the deadly combat.