The release of a prequel to Suzanne Collins’ successful Hunger Games series is expected to bring the franchise its worst-ever opening, Deadline reports, despite the delay of other November films due to the ongoing actors’ strike and an successful re-watch campaign that pushed earlier films in the franchise into Netflix’s most-watched movies this spring.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is projected to gross $50 million in its opening weekend, according to Deadline, less than half of what the franchise’s least successful film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, made in its 2015 opening ($102.6 million).
Starring Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler, the new movie features an entirely new cast and is set 64 years before the events of the original books and films, adding it to a prequel genre that has seen new films released in the successful Star Wars, Despicable Me, Lord Of The Rings, Star Trek and Harry Potter franchises in the last decade.
With a $50 million opening weekend, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes would be comparable to prequels like The Nun ($53.8 million), Batman Begins ($48.7 million) and Prometheus ($51 million).
The Hunger Games film’s release comes on the heels of a campaign led by Netflix this spring to re-generate interest in the original four films: Three times as many TikTok videos about the Hunger Games were posted in March of 2023 than the month before and the series saw a 425% uptick in followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Deadline reported.
A surge in popularity among the original series is the main draw of creating prequels at all, Variety reports—the release of the Fantastic Beast films led to a 64% increase in searches of the original Harry Potter films, and the release of prequel series 1883 saw a 78% boost in search for Yellowstone.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the early life of a then-18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Blyth), who stars in the original series as the tyrannical president of a dystopian society. He mentors a Hunger Games competitor from impoverished District 12 (Zegler) in a story dating back decades before the original films and books. The film is based on a 2020 book of the same name written by Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins. The story was adapted for the screen by Michael Lesslie and Michael Arndt.
$2.96 billion. That’s how much the original four Hunger Games movies grossed at the worldwide box office.
Lionsgate opted to keep the original November release date of Songbirds and Snakes despite an ongoing actors strike that has led many studios to push blockbuster releases until stars can publicly promote the films. Dune: Part Two, originally scheduled to release next weekend, will now premiere March 15 and Deadpool 3, also slated to come out in November, will debut May 3, 2024.
What To Watch For
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes releases in theaters on November 17.
10 Best Performing Prequel Films (per Box Office Mojo)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)—$532.2 million lifetime gross
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)—$431 million (about $798 million today)
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)—$380.3 million (about $602 million today)
Minions (2015)—$336 million
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)—$303 million (about $406 million today)
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)—$302 million (about $516 million today)
Monsters University (2013)—$268 million (about $353 million today)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)—$258 million (about $340 million today)
Star Trek (2009)—$257.7 million (about $370 million today)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)—$255 million (about $334 today)