‘Hunger Games’ Prequel Leads Box Office With $45 Million As ‘Marvels’ Plummets 79%

A plethora of new releases are offering modest support to theaters this pre-Thanksgiving weekend as Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” leads the charts with an estimated $45 million opening from 3,766 theaters. Meanwhile, things have gone from bad to worse for Marvel Studios’ “The Marvels.”

Prior to release, the prequel to the hit “Hunger Games” series was projected for an opening of around $50 million. With a reported production budget of around $100 million, this is still a decent start for “Songbirds and Snakes,” but what may be more concerning is the B+ grade given by audiences on CinemaScore.

By comparison, “The Hunger Games” and its sequel “Catching Fire” earned an A on CinemaScore, while the two parts of finale “Mockingjay” each earned an A-. Many tentpoles that have failed to earn an A- or higher this year have seen larger drops in later weekends, so we will have to see how much “Songbirds and Snakes” can maintain moviegoer interest during Thanksgiving weekend.

But at least “Hunger Games” holds a lower production price tag than the $220 million spent on “The Marvels,” which has now become a box office bust of “Flash”-sized proportions. The MCU film is set to earn just $9-10 million in its second weekend, plummeting 79% from its universe-wide franchise-low $46 million opening.

With an estimated $66.3 million 10-day domestic total, “The Marvels” is 25% behind the pace of “The Flash,” which grossed $87.5 million after two weekends this past summer.

In between “Hunger Games” and “Marvels” on the charts this weekend is Universal/DreamWorks’ “Trolls Band Together” with a $30 million opening from 3,870 theaters. That opening sits on the lower end of the film’s $28-35 million projections and is down from the $46 million opening of the first “Trolls” in 2016.

The good news for “Trolls 3” is that families are enjoying it, giving it an A on CinemaScore, while overseas grosses have already pushed the film’s global total past $100 million. Both will be key for “Trolls” to leg out against major competition from Disney’s “Wish” on Thanksgiving weekend.

Speaking of “Thanksgiving,” that tongue-in-cheek slasher from Sony Pictures and director Eli Roth is tracking for an opening of around $10 million this weekend, below projections of a mid-teens start but possibly topping “The Marvels” depending on how the rest of the weekend shakes out. The film has received a B- on CinemaScore, but surprisingly strong critics reviews, with an 81% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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