AceShowbiz - "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" has emerged as a new champion at the North American box office. Lionsgate's dystopian action film easily wins the first place with an estimated $44 million despite the arrival of other new offerings.
In another dismal result of a big franchise, "The Hunger Games" prequel opens slightly beyond expectations. Heading into the frame, tracking suggested the movie would bring in around $50 million, with some industry estimates going as low as $45 million or as high as $60 million.
Traffic, however, slipped more than expected on Saturday, marking the lowest start of the franchise. The Jennifer Lawrence-led original four films all broke $100 million in their first weekends.
With an added $54.5 million from 87 international markets, the Rachel Zegler-starring movie has already earned $98.5 million against a more modest $100 million budget. Lionsgate still considers it a strong start for the prequel, which is billed as darker in tone than Lawrence's movies.
"Historically, attempting to do prequels, especially with no returning cast, can be a very challenging proposition," says Adam Fogelson, vice chair of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. "The fact that we're sitting here at basically $100 million on opening weekend around the world is, I think, a testament to the quality of the movie, the quality of the talent that worked on the movie and a campaign that was both successful and efficient." Fogelson adds that comparing the prequel to the original movies would be "a complete disservice to this movie as a standalone."
David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, agrees as saying, "This is a very good opening for an action-adventure prequel." He explains, "On average, prequels start with approximately half of the previous film's opening, and this weekend's figure is close to that."
It's a busy weekend at the theaters heading into Thanksgiving, with plenty of new offerings, such as "Trolls Band Together" and "Thanksgiving". The third "Trolls" movie debuts at No. 2 with an estimated $30.6 million.
Eli Roth's R-rated slasher "Thanksgiving" bows with an estimated $10.2 million, slightly behind expectations of $12-15 million from 3,200 theaters. It's tied with "The Marvels" which plummeted a record 78% in its second weekend. The final order will be determined on Monday morning.
"Five Nights at Freddy's" drops from No. 2 to No. 5 with approximately $3.5 million. Meanwhile, Taika Waititi's soccer comedy "Next Goal Wins" opens to an estimated $2.5 million and places seventh in its first weekend.
Top 10 of North American Box Office (Nov. 17-19, 2023):