<strong><em>The Hunger Games: Catching Fire</em></strong> earns $25.2 million from Thursday screenings
Theaters across the country caught fire last night when the highly-anticipated sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened in theaters nationwide with 8 PM, 10 PM and midnight screenings. The follow-up earned a whopping $25.2 million from these Thursday night screenings, 28% higher than The Hunger Games' $19.7 preview earnings last spring. However, the original did not have 8 PM screenings, so that could account for some of the increase.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is already on track to be one of the biggest movies this year at the box office. Iron Man 3, which currently stands as the highest-grossing movie this year at $409 million, made just $15.6 million from its Thursday night screenings, en route to a $174.4 million opening weekend.

The sequel, directed by Francis Lawrence, has already taken in $32 million internationally from 43 territories, with most regions grossing twice as much as the original last year. It expands to 65 international territories starting today.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in 4,163 theaters today, just a few theaters shy of Iron Man 3's 4,253 rollout. The sequel also has a very good chance of breaking the November box office record, held by The Twilight Saga: New Moon with $142.8 million.

Stay tuned for the full box office numbers on Sunday morning to see how The Girl on Fire fares in theaters this weekend.