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Exclusive: ABC Family Acquires 'The Hunger Games'

ABC Family has bought the rights to the first film of the hugely popular Hunger Games franchise in advance of its theatrical release on March 23, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

The Hunger Games would be available to the Disney-owned cable net 30 months from release, putting it at a fall 2014 debut. The deal likely also includes the film sequel Catching Fire, which is scheduled for a Nov. 22, 2013 theatrical release, according to the source.

Late last month, The Hunger Games set a first day advance ticket sales record on Fandango, beating previous record-holder The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. ABC Family likely agreed to pay more than the typical 8% to 12% of domestic box office that basic cable networks tend to pay for theatricals due to the strong demand in the market for rights to the highly anticipated film.

Based on the 2008 young adult novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic world and chronicles an annual event where one boy and one girl from each of 12 districts are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death. Collins wrote the film adaptation herself, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth in the project from Lionsgate Entertainment.

The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy that also includes 2009's Catching Fire and 2010' Mockingjay. There are more than 11 million copies of The Hunger Games in print in the U.S., according to its publisher Scholastic, and the novel has spent 180 consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Spokespersons for ABC Family and Lionsgate declined to comment.