- “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is expected to gross between $42 million and $55 million during its opening weekend.
- Each of the other four films in the Hunger Games series debuted with ticket sales in excess of $100 million at the domestic box office.
- The prequel to the $3 billion Hunger Games franchise, based on the 2020 novel of the same name by author Suzanne Collins, is a standalone film set about 60 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as a tribute.
Tom Blythe and Rachel Ziegler star as Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Graybird in Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”
“It’s snowing up there.”
It’s the logo for the main character Coriolanus Snow in the upcoming “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” movie and the hope of its distributor Lionsgate.
The prequel to the $3 billion Hunger Games franchise, based on the 2020 novel of the same name by author Suzanne Collins, is a standalone film set about 60 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as a tribute. It will premiere in theaters this weekend.
“Ballad” is headed for a strong opening, likely to take in between $42 million and $55 million, according to box office analysts, as the first new entry in the Hunger Games saga since 2015.
“It’s an interesting situation for a Hunger Games prequel, because expectations are suddenly that it has a chance of opening on par with The Marvels, after the last film reached negative expectations,” Sean Robbins said. Senior Analyst at BoxOffice.com.
Disney and Marvel Studios’ The Marvels performed well below expectations when it debuted in theaters earlier this month. The film grossed $46.1 million domestically during its first weekend, the lowest in the history of the 30-plus film franchise. The film was initially scheduled to take in between $75 million and $80 million, but those expectations were cut to $60 million and $65 million ahead of its opening.
“There has always been a certain mystique surrounding the Hunger Games franchise,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “This latest installment looks to take the goodwill generated by the original films in the series and parlay that into what promises to be a stable $50 [million] “Plus the debut of this interesting and exciting origin story.”
The film revolves around the young Coriolanus Snow, a man destined to become the president of Panem, the fictional nation based on the continental United States. It highlights what led to his rise to become the despotic ruler featured in later Hunger Games stories.
While box office analysts view the film’s $50 million opening as a positive — given the recent writer and actor strikes in Hollywood and the change in consumers’ movie-going habits — “Ballad” will open at a much lower price than its predecessors. Each of the other four films in the Hunger Games series debuted with ticket sales in excess of $100 million at the domestic box office.
The Hunger Games franchise opens this weekend
- “The Hunger Games” (2012) – $152.5 million
- “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013) – $158 million
- “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” (2014) – $121.9 million
- “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” (2015) – $102.6 million
There are some concerns from box office analysts about whether “Ballad” will be able to recapture the audience interest shown nearly a decade ago in the previous installments.
“We’re talking about a prequel that doesn’t have the star power that its predecessors had with Jennifer Lawrence,” Robbins said. “The fan base is a little older now; [young adult] “This genre has been past the peak of its popularity for more than a decade.”
Robbins said that Prequels are generally a challenge to market outside of their core fan base.
“The biggest variable here is what portion of today’s young female audience this new Hunger Games story with a completely new cast can bring in,” he said.
So far, the movie has Score of 61% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes From 90 reviews, with critics emphasizing that the great cast and exciting story make the film a worthwhile return to the Hunger Games universe. But some found the film’s pacing too rushed. The screenplay is almost identical to Collins’ novel, which contains more than 500 pages.
The film is also an independent film, and there is no promise of a future installment. The film’s producers have said they do not plan to return to Panem unless Collins writes another book.
However, “Ballad” arrives in theaters at a critical time for Lionsgate — with the company preparing to split from Starz and on the heels of its recent acquisition of Entertainment One from Hasbro — and at the box office. It opens only on top of Disney’s animated film “Wish” and AppleTV+’s “Napoleon,” which is scheduled to premiere next week on Thanksgiving.
“It’s an action-packed weekend that theaters and studios certainly need after another feast-or-famine fall season plagued by release delays and industry strikes, both of which will still be felt through the holiday season,” Robbins said.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal has Rotten Tomatoes.
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