'The Hunger Games' Takes Aim At Box Office History

[caption id="attachment_101677" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Lionsgate"][/caption]

In fairy tales, the spell that turned Cinderella from a scullery maid to a princess wore off right at the stroke of midnight. But when the clocks hit 12 tonight, the biggest Cinderella story in recent box office history is going to just be getting underway — and, according to early reports, "The Hunger Games" might have the best fairy tale ending ever.

Pack up your sleeping bag and get out your No-Doz, because "The Hunger Games" debuts tonight at midnight in theaters across the country and ABC News is reporting that the wildly anticipated sci-fi epic has already taken in more than $15 million in advanced sales before the doors even open.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as those figures only represent sales from AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark theaters. Things are even hotter online, with Fandango reporting that "The Hunger Games" has already sold out more than 2,000 showings nationwide, which they estimate will be enough to move the movie into third place on their chart of all-time advance ticket sellers.

So just how big is "The Hunger Games" going to be? Well, the folks over at Hollywood.com are predicting that Jennifer Lawrence and co-stars Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth could be looking at a haul of up to $145 million over its opening weekend alone. That would put it right up there with "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" ($138 million) and "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" ($142 million) among the best opening weekends of all time, a record currently held by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" (at $169 million).

"The Hunger Games" will also be chasing "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" for the title of biggest midnight release ever, as the final installment of the "Harry Potter" franchise took in an amazing $43.5 million in its Thursday night premiere last July. That might be a tall order, but "The Hunger Games" does look like it has a chance at matching 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"'s $30 million midnight haul from 2010. And it seems likely it will also surpass "Alice in Wonderland"'s $116 million for the highest grossing opening weekend ever in the month of March.

All of which is particularly impressive considering "The Hunger Games" is the first film in its franchise, while "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" earned their record breaking numbers after years of buildup. Is "The Hunger Games" destined to become the biggest franchise ever?

We have a feeling this glass slipper is going to fit Katniss perfectly.

"The Hunger Games" Photos