"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" blazed straight to the top of weekend movie charts, setting a U.S. and Canadian record for November ticket sales and hauling in a huge $307.7 million around the world.
Fans poured into theaters for the second installment in the series starring Jennifer Lawrence as scrappy heroine Katniss Everdeen, the skilled archer who becomes a beacon of hope for the oppressed residents of the fictional nation of Panem.
"Catching Fire" collected an estimated $161.1 million from Thursday night through Sunday in the United States and Canada, a record domestic debut for the month of November. It topped the $152.5 million opening for "Hunger Games" in March 2012 that established the series as a blockbuster franchise.
The new film scored 2013's second-biggest debut, behind the May opening for superhero sequel "Iron Man 3" of $174.1 million, and also marked the fourth-biggest domestic film opening in history.
Playing in 65 markets around the world, "Catching Fire" also grabbed $146.6 million in foreign sales through Sunday, according to distributor Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
The "Hunger Games" film series is based on best-selling novels by Suzanne Collins. Her third book in the trilogy will reach the big screen in two installments - "Mockingjay - Part 1" and "Mockingjay - Part 2" scheduled for release in November 2014 and November 2015.
Filling out the rest of the charts, Marvel superhero sequel "Thor: The Dark World" finished in second place, according to studio estimates provided by Rentrak. The movie starring Chris Hemsworth pulled in $14.1 million at domestic theaters this weekend and brought its worldwide total to nearly $550 million, according to distributor Walt Disney Co.
In third place, romantic comedy "The Best Man Holiday" earned $12.5 million. The movie stars Taye Diggs, Terence Howard and others as friends who reunite at Christmas.
The new Vince Vaughn comedy, "Delivery Man," finished in fourth place with $8.2 million. Vaughn plays a sperm donor who discovers he has fathered more than 500 children.
Animated movie "Free Birds," about a pair of time-traveling turkeys, finished fifth with $5.3 million.