‘Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ Domestic Box Office Stings ‘The Marvels’

The Big Picture

  • Lionsgate’s Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, underperformed at the box office, grossing only $44 million in its debut weekend, below initial projections.
  • The film received mixed reviews and is currently sitting at a 61% score on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the worst-reviewed installment in the franchise.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes explores the origin story of Coriolanus Snow and his involvement in the titular annual games, but its length and lower ratings may have contributed to its disappointing debut.

Lionsgate’s Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, is coming in marginally under expectations in its debut weekend at the domestic box office. The film grossed an estimated $44 million across its first three days of release, which marks a record-low for the blockbuster franchise that ran for four movies between 2012 and 2015, and generated nearly $3 billion in global box office revenue. Initial projections ranged from $50 million to $60 million. The film’s length and mixed reviews could have been factors in its lower-than-expected debut.

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is set decades before the events of the Hunger Games franchise, and traces the origins of Coriolanus Snow, who goes on to become the primary antagonist of the series. He’s played in the movie by Tom Blyth, who stars alongside Rachel Zegler. She plays a “tribute” chosen to compete in the titular annual games, in which teenagers compete against each other in a gladiatorial survival battles for the entertainment of the wealthy and the financial security of the oppressed.

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is directed by Francis Lawrence, who previously helmed three films in the Hunger Games series, all to (declining) critical and commercial success. It’s the least costly installment in the series since the first film, with a reported price tag of $100 million, but also the worst-reviewed. The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes currently sits at a borderline “fresh” 61% score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and could muster only a B+ CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Weekend Top Five


The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

$44 million

Trolls Band Together

$30.6 million


$10 million

The Marvels

$9.7 million

Next Goal Wins

$2.8 million

The Weekend Box Office Was Dominated By New Releases

Image via Sony Pictures

Debuting in second place after a solid international roll-out across the past couple of weeks, Universal’s animated three-quel Trolls Band Together delivered a strong opening weekend estimated at $30.6 million, and has now passed the $100 million mark globally. The previous installment, Trolls World Tour, was released day-and-date on PVOD platforms in the earliest days of the pandemic, and barely made a dent at the box office. The first film, on the other hand, grossed just under $350 million globally back in 2016.

Another new release took the third spot. Director Eli Roth’s well-reviewed slasher movie Thanksgiving delivered an estimated $10 million opening weekend, and narrowly edged out last week’s number one film, Disney’s The Marvels. After delivering a franchise-low opening weekend haul, the superhero sequel plummeted in its sophomore weekend, registering a record 80% drop. This is among the worst falls in history for a superhero film, and the worst-ever for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. The Marvels’ running domestic total now stands at a little over $60 million, and there’s virtually zero chance of it hitting the $100 million mark in its theatrical run.

Speaking of Marvel falling from grace, director Taika Waititi’s follow-up to the disappointing Thor: Love and Thunder, the sports comedy Next Goal Wins is tanking in its first weekend with under $3 million. The film has had a rough road to release, marked by numerous delays and a major casting change — Will Arnett subbed in for the disgraced Armie Hammer in post-production. Waititi’s star has also significantly declined in recent years, following his Oscar win for Jojo Rabbit. Stay tuned to Collider for more updates.

The Hunger Games The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Film Poster

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) — the last hope for the once-proud Snow family — who is reluctantly assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from the impoverished District 12 for the 10th Hunger Games. Snow sets out on a race against time to survive and reveal if he will become a songbird or a snake.

Release Date
November 17, 2023

Francis Lawrence

Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Viola Davis, Tom Blyth, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Burn Gorman, Fionnula Flanagan

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