Weekend Box Office: Hunger Games comes in light while Marvels has historic drop

The Hunger Games prequel came in under expectations while The Marvels ties with Shaquille O’Neal for worst second week drop ever for a comic book movie.

The popcorn has been popped, the drinks have been drunk and the box office numbers for this last weekend before Thanksgiving have been tallied and standing at the top of the mountain is The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes with a reported $44 million debut. That number comes in lighter than where we saw it on Thursday as we (and most other box office trackers) saw this prequel hitting the half century mark. This number comes in $58.6 million shy of the previous lowest opening of the Hunger Games franchise (2015’s Mockingjay Part 2). Many may be quick to point out that last week we saw a similar opening for The Marvels and declared it a massive bomb while we are not sounding the alarm on Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes just yet. There is a very simple reason for that: The Marvels’ budget was over two times this films budget.

Reviews for the latest chapter in The Hunger Games saga have been decidedly mixed with some praising the cast with others saying it is a simple cash grab with nothing new to offer. A sentiment our own Tyler Nichols shared in his 5/10 review of the film. With this softer than expected opening and that $100 million budget before marketing, this one will need some solid word of mouth to be deemed a worthwhile investment for Lionsgate, luckily it currently has a 91% audience score.

Coming in second place and falling right in line with our predictions is the animated threequel Trolls Band Together with an estimated $30.6 million debut. That is a pretty solid number for a franchise that could have lost some of its luster when its second film was hit with some covid related difficulties. Of course if the numbers are believed, Universal pulled in over $100 million from their $19.99 video on demand release of the sequel in just the first three weeks of that film being available, something the first movie took five months to do. Luckily they didn’t stick with that VOD model and returned the Trolls back to theaters where it should have a healthy run during the holidays.

And now comes probaby the biggest news of the weekend: The Marvels, the movie that was already the worst opening ever for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now, at 78% and a second weekend of $10.2 million, tied with the Shaquille O’Neal classic Steel as the worst second week drop for a comic book film… ever.

There are a million reasons this movie just didn’t connect and while some may claim misogyny as one of those reasons, that one would be number 999,999. The biggest reason this movie just didn’t connect with audiences is that it was not just a flat out sequel to Captain Marvel, which still holds the title of highest grossing female fronted super hero movie of all time, but rather a big screen version of the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel with a second lead hailing from another Disney+ show, Wandavision. Quite frankly, general audiences didn’t really watch those shows and the previews for this movie made it seem like if you didn’t watch those shows, you will be lost watching this movie. Whether that is true or not, the fact also remains that a lot of people just found this movie to be very run of the mill with nothing really new or fresh to offer. I know Disney wants some original content for their streaming service, and original Marvel content seemed to be a slam dunk, but they are watering down the brand and need to find a way to get back on track before audiences give up on them completely. You can check out Alex Maidy’s 6/10 review here.

Right now there is a tie for third place as the Eli Roth film that has been 13 years in the making, Thanksgiving, is also looking at a $10.2 million weekend. While that number may seem a bit low, the film,which began life back in 2007 as one of the “fake” trailers during the Quentin Tarantino/ Robert Rodriguez mash up Grindhouse, had a modest budget of just $15 million. So despite a number that doesn’t put it on the level of a Scream type opening, this new entry into the holiday horror movie tradition should be able to eek out a profit when all is said and done. 

thanksgiving review

Fifth place belongs to the killer animatronics of Five Nights at Freddy’s which continues its solid theatrical run with an additional $3.5 million added to its $132.6 million domestic total. In a bit of coincidental news, just a few days ago Chuck E. Cheese announced they were getting rid of their animatronics at all locations except one. Perhaps Five Nights at Freddy’s was not mere entertainment, but rather a warning to us all about what these seemingly innocent animatronics are capable of. Or, according to the Chuck E. Cheese head of communications, it is just a coincidence and they had been planning on phasing out the “Munch’s Make Believe Band” for a while.

Coming in sixth place and losing just 16% of its audience is one of the best movies of the year: The Holdovers, with a reported $2.7 million. I can not sing the praises of this film enough as it is one of the best movies I have ever seen that balances genuine laugh out loud humor with scenes of tremendous heart break. That is a testament to the writer (David Hemingson), the director (Alexander Payne) and the sure to be Oscar Nominated performers (Paul Giamatti, Dominic Sessa and for my money the one who already has Best Supporting Actress locked up: Da’Vine Joy Randolph). If you are looking for a film that gives off that holiday feel without being an expressly holiday film, with genuine humor and heart, do yourself a favor and go check out The Holdovers in theaters.

Coming in seventh place with a not great start of $2.5 million is the Taika Waititi directed true story Next Goal Wins which according to most reviews (including our own Chris Bumbray, who gave it a 7/10) is a decent, yet formulaic feel good sports comedy. I expect this one will find new life on home video. The market may just be too flooded right now and this appears to the film that got lost in the fray.

The remainder of the top ten is Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour with an additional $2.4 million added to its stellar $175.3 million domestic total while the Sofia Coppola directed Priscilla becomes her second highest grossing film at the domestic box office (overtaking 2006’s Marie Antoinette) as it added $2.3 million to its $16.9 million domestic total. It has a long way to go if it wants to break the $44.5 million taken in by the Academy Award winning Lost in Translation.

Rounding out the top ten is the Martin Scorsese directed Killers of the Flower Moon with another $1.9 million added to its $63.5 million domestic total. That number is pretty good for a three and a half hour western drama, but not that great for a film budgeted at $200 million. Of course that budget was spent by Apple knowing full well this was a streaming title for them and the box office revenue serves as a solid advertisement for when the film hits the Apple+ streaming service, presumably before Christmas (that is just a speculation by me as no official streaming date has yet been announced).

What do you make of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes opening or the historic drop by The Marvels? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check out our weekly poll where, in honor of Thanksgiving, we ask: What is your favorite holiday horror movie?

1 The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes $44.0 M $44.0 M
2 Trolls Band Together $30.6 M $31.7 M
3 The Marvels $10.2 M $65.0 M
4 Thanksgiving $10.2 M $10.2 M
5 Five Nights at Freddy's $3.5 M $132.6 M
6 The Holdovers $2.7 M $8.3 M
7 Next Goal Wins $2.5 M $2.5 M
8 Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour $2.4 M $175.3 M
9 Priscilla $2.3 M $16.9 M
10 Killers of the Flower Moon $1.9 M $63.5 M
Source: Comscore

About the Author

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Brad grew up loving movies and wanting to work in the industry. Graduated from Full Sail University in 2007 before moving to Los Angeles where I was fortunate enough to join SAG-Aftra in 2012. I love every second I get to write about movies for Joblo!