In its first weekend in theaters, "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" dominated the North American box office, earning an estimated $44 million in ticket sales. The film's success comes as a surprise given that it is a prequel to the original "Hunger Games" franchise and has been dormant for eight years. The previous films in the series, starring Jennifer Lawrence, all exceeded $100 million in their opening weekends.
However, Lionsgate, the studio behind the film, operates differently from legacy studios by licensing its titles to international distributors, which helps cover a significant portion of the film's budget. Additionally, the film's budget was kept around $100 million, thanks in part to tax credits for filming in Germany. With an additional $54.5 million earned from international markets, the film has already brought in $98.5 million worldwide.
While critics had mixed reviews of "The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes," audiences were more positive. The film currently holds a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is worth noting that moviegoing behavior around holidays can be skewed, and some audiences may be waiting to watch the film with their families during the Thanksgiving holiday.
In contrast, "The Marvels," which experienced a record-breaking 78% drop in its second weekend, did not fare as well. The film made only $10.2 million domestically, marking a historic low for Marvel and modern superhero movies. Internationally, it added $19.5 million, bringing its global total to $161.3 million.
Other films that debuted over the weekend include "Trolls Band Together," which opened in second place with an estimated $30.6 million in North America, and "Thanksgiving," an R-rated slasher film that made $10.2 million. Both films received mixed reviews from critics.
Looking ahead, the Thanksgiving holiday presents an opportunity for moviegoers to catch up on both big and small films. This week, new releases include Disney's "Wish," Ridley Scott's historical epic "Napoleon," and the expansion of Emerald Fennell's provocative "Saltburn." Ultimately, the challenge for moviegoers lies in choosing which films to watch, as the options are plentiful.