Jennifer Lawence told eveyone on national television not to see “The Hunger Games.” No one listened. The Lionsgate film exploded at the box office and is expected to rake in $140 million over the weekend.

The film broke out of the pack in its weekend debut with $19.75 million in ticket sales for its midnight opening. That number soared to $68.2 million for all of Friday, according to Deadline.

Lawrence made her pronouncement during a promotional stop on the David Letterman show. In the nervous interview, she panned her own performance. Some critics agreed. The film also stars Elizabeth Banks, Willow Shields, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson.

The Gary Ross-directed movie is getting a solid thumbs up from critics and strong word of mouth from those who have seen the film.

Preliminary Weekend Movie Gross

Movie Theaters Friday Wkend* Total
1. The Hunger Games 4,137 $68.2M $140M $140M
2. 21 Jump Street 3,121 $6.4M $20M

3. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax 3,677 $3M $13M $175M
4. John Carter 3,212 $1.5M $5M $63M
5. Project X 2,065 $700K $2M $52M
6. October Baby 398 $600K $2M $2M
7. Act Of Valor 2,219 $550K $2M $66M
8. A Thousand Words 1,787 $500K $2M $15M
9. Safe House 1,330 $475K $1M $123M
10. Journey 2 1,340 $400K $1M $97M

*estimates, numbers rounded; Source:

It received an 88 percent approval rating from critics and a whopping 95 percent rating from those who have seen it, according to rottentomatoes, which tracks reviews.

Not all critics were on board with the film. Lawrence’s performance was called “bland,” in an otherwise positive review by The New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal went even further and panned the movie. “The first book of Suzanne Collins’s prodigiously popular trilogy has been brought to the screen with a Jumbotron sensibility, a shaky camera to emphasize the action and a shakier grip on the subject’s emotional core,” wrote critic Joe Morgenstern.

But the boo-birds, few and far between, were overwhelmed by the positive reviews. “The Hunger Games has epic spectacle, yearning romance, suspense that won’t quit and a shining star in Jennifer Lawrence,” wrote Peter Travers, in Rolling Stone, one of the cheerleaders.

Ross manages to keep the pacing remarkably swift, given that the games themselves don’t start until halfway through the 144-minute running time,” noted Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor.

Indeed, wherever this film goes wrong, Lionsgate will have at least two more shots to get it right and maybe three. Collins wrote three Hunger Games books, and the sequels are already in the works.

“The Hunger Games” is also faring much better among critics than the “Twilight” vampire series. The four movies, starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, were all mostly panned by critics, but loved by fans.

The film’s opening is the highest non-sequel opening weekend ever, and the highest debut single-day for a non-sequel ever, and the highest March opening ever, and the 5th highest opening day ever, according to deadline.