The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes might be flying where The Marvels crashed and burned, as the new Hunger Games movie is on track to meet its box office goals should it not drop too hard during its second weekend in cinemas.
Variety broke down the numbers on Sunday, which put the adaptation of the 2020 prequel book on track to break even without breaking a sweat if audiences don't disappear this next weekend. The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes reportedly almost cracked the $100 million mark worldwide after three days of release with $44 million in North America and $54.5 million internationally. While it didn’t come close to hitting the marks of the original Hunger Games saga, the numbers paint a positive picture for Lionsgate. In fact, though the movie was envisioned as a standalone entry in the Hunger Games universe, Adam Fogelson, vice chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, teases that moviegoers may not have seen the last of Panem: "The film opened an endless series of possibilities that Suzanne can go, and that [Lionsgate] can go with her."
Some Marvel fans quickly took to social media to claim the press was applauding results that only the previous week were deemed as insufficient for The Marvels, Marvel Studios' latest release. The big difference, which many are failing to notice, is the production budgets on the two movies: The Marvels' reported budget sits around $220 million without the $55 million subsidy from filming in the UK. Meanwhile, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes cost less than half those numbers, only reaching the perfectly reasonable $100 million mark. Excessive budgets, which often can't be appreciated in the final result, are quickly becoming the life-or-death deciders for huge Hollywood blockbusters, and The Marvels will be the latest victim of this trend. The newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has misfired with an all-time low (for Marvel) 79% drop in its second weekend of release. At this point, it'll be lucky to hit $100 million domestically by the end of its theatrical run, a far cry from the MCU's golden days. The global tally is sitting around $161 million; it'll fall extremely far from the $700 million zone it should enter to make Disney and Marvel any profits.
Historically, the Thanksgiving-into-December corridor works well for animated films and PG-13 features, and with Disney and Marvel Studios' counterprogramming looking to disappear in the near future, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes should cross the finish line with a decent enough haul for Lionsgate. That said, more Hunger Games might not 100% be on the table with such a moderate level of success.
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