Rachel Zegler is enjoying box office gold…
The 22-year-old half-Colombian American Golden Globe-winning starlet’s The Hunger Games” prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes emerged victorious in a busy box office weekend.
The Lionsgate film, which brings audiences back to the dystopia of Panem for the first time in nearly a decade, collected $44 million from 3,776 North American theaters and $98 million globally in its first weekend of release.
While initial ticket sales didn’t recapture the spark of the original franchise, which propelled Jennifer Lawrence to global stardom and inspired three sequels, they were enough to win the weekend over three fellow newcomers, Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s threequel Trolls Band Together, Sony’s gory thriller Thanksgiving and director Taika Waititi’s sports comedy Next Goal Wins.
Although The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes opened significantly lower than its predecessors — each of the four Hunger Games installments launched to at least $100 million at the domestic box office — analysts believe the film is well positioned in its theatrical run. It cost $100 million to produce, more than the first Hunger Games but substantially less than the three sequels (with the final 2015 adventure costing $160 million).
“This is a very good opening for an action-adventure prequel,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “On average, prequels start with approximately half of the previous film’s opening, and this weekend’s figure is close to that.”
Zegler and The Gilded Age actor Tom Blyth star in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, based on the 2020 novel by author Suzanne Collins. It’s a standalone film in the $3 billion Hunger Games franchise, which takes place six decades before Katniss Everdeen bravely volunteered as tribute.
The story centers on a young Coriolanus Snow, who later becomes the tyrannical president of the dystopian Panem, as well as District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, whom he mentors in the 10th annual Hunger Games. Reviews have been mixed, with 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and a “B+” CinemaScore. Audiences were mostly young women; 65% were female and 73% were between the ages of 18-34.
It likely benefitted from a late-breaking boost in publicity (SAG-AFTRA granted the film an interim agreement days before the strike ended on November 9), which allowed the cast — including Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage and Euphoria star Hunter Schafer — the opportunity to promote the film before it arrived in theaters.