The odds were always ever in Lionsgate's favor that The Hunger Games would hit big at the box office, and fans came out in droves to midnight screenings last night, to the tune of $19.7 million.

Lionsgate rolled out The Hunger Games in over 2,500 theaters for midnight screenings, and the $19.7 million take is the best ever midnight gross for a non-sequel, and the seventh best of all time. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 holds the midnight record with a whopping $43.5 million last summer. The Hunger Games also out-grossed The Dark Knight's 2008 midnight tally of $18.5 million. The Dark Knight ended up breaking the opening weekend box office record that year, with $158.4 million, although that opened in the blockbuster-friendly month of July.

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The Hunger Games will be released in 4,137 theaters starting today, which includes IMAX theaters. Be sure to stay tuned for Box Office Beat Down on Sunday, to see how well The Hunger Games fared.