By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "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. It topped the $152.5 million opening for "Hunger Games" in March 2012 that established the series as a blockbuster franchise. 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. Domestic IMAX screenings accounted for $12.6 million of the ticket sales, a November record opening for the big-screen format.
Singaporean family drama "Ilo Ilo" was the surprise winner of the coveted best feature film prize at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan Saturday while kung fu epic "The Grandmaster" scooped the most gongs at the Chinese-language "Oscars". "Ilo Ilo" -- director Anthony Chen's first feature-length film -- was the dark horse for the award, beating off stiff competition from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmaster," Johnnie To's "Drug War," Jia Zhangke's "A Touch of Sin" and Tsai Ming-liang's "Stray Dogs".
The "Hunger Games" sequel "Catching Fire" pulled in $25.25 million in U.S. box office sales on Thursday night, 28 percent more than the first movie in the franchise grossed on the same night, and setting a course for big opening weekend sales. The highly-anticipated Lions Gate Entertainment Corp film opens officially in the United States on Friday, but many theaters began showing the movie on Thursday. The films, which star Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen, are based on Suzanne Collins' wildly popular novels about an oppressive post-apocalyptic society that stages teen death matches to maintain order among its citizens. The first "Hunger Games" movie in 2012 was a smash hit last year, collecting $691 million in ticket sales worldwide.
Still basking in the success of his directorial debut, "Don Jon," the actor is reportedly flirting with a project to bring Neil Gaiman's cult classic comic to the big screen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is rumored to be in very early discussions to star in this adaptation, which was pitched to Warner Bros by David Goyer, the screenwriter and producer behind the studio's latest Batman and Superman films. According to a report from Badassdigest.com -- qualified as "up in the air" -- Goyer's next project will be adapted from Neil Gaiman's long-running comic "The Sandman." Seen in "The Dark Knight Rises," which Goyer co-wrote, Gordon-Levitt is reportedly eyeing the role of Dream, aka Morpheus, in this allegorical tale.
After playing young lovers on HBO's "Big Love," the two actors will form a couple again in the forthcoming drama from Italian director Gabriele Muccino ("The Pursuit of Happyness"). Aaron Paul and Amanda Seyfried, who played a couple on the Mormon-themed drama "Big Love" on and off from 2007 and 2011, will return to this dynamic in "Fathers and Daughters," Variety reports. Russell Crowe will also star in this split narrative drama, which alternates between past and present. "Fathers and Daughters" will feature Crowe in the role of a successful novelist whose mental illness takes a turn for the worse following the death of his wife.