The highly anticipated prequel to the Hunger Games franchise, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," is set to make its debut in theaters this weekend. The film, based on Suzanne Collins' 2020 novel of the same name, takes place 60 years before the events of the original series and explores the rise of the main antagonist, Coriolanus Snow.
Box office analysts are predicting a solid opening for the film, with estimates ranging from $42 million to $55 million. This comes in the wake of disappointment surrounding the latest Marvel film, "The Marvels," which underperformed at the box office. However, the opening weekend figures for "Ballad" will still be significantly lower than those of its predecessors in the Hunger Games franchise, which all debuted with over $100 million in ticket sales.
Despite concerns about the lack of star power compared to the original films, industry experts believe that the film's intriguing origin story and the goodwill generated by the original series will attract audiences. However, there is uncertainty about whether "Ballad" will be able to recapture the same level of enthusiasm as the earlier films, given that the fan base has aged and the young adult genre is not as popular as it once was.
Early reviews of the film have been mixed, with a 61% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have praised the outstanding cast and exciting story, but some have found the pacing to be rushed. The film is a standalone and does not promise any future installments, although producers have indicated that they would consider returning to the franchise if Collins writes another book.
The release of "Ballad" comes at an important time for Lionsgate, as the company is set to split from Starz and recently acquired Entertainment One. It also arrives alongside other releases, such as Disney's "Wish" and AppleTV+'s "Napoleon," which are due out next week for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Overall, the success of "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" remains to be seen, but it is expected to provide a much-needed boost to the box office during a challenging time for the industry.