THE HUNGER Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes opened as the top film in US and Canadian theaters, taking in ticket sales of $44 million for cinema owners and its studio, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
Sales as reported by Lionsgate were on the lower end of Box Office Pro’s projection of $42 million to $55 million and came in well short of previous Hunger Games films, raising questions about whether the blockbuster series adapted from novels by Suzanne Collins can connect with today’s younger generations.
Songbirds & Snakes, starring Rachel Zegler, is the first Hunger Games picture in eight years. Lionsgate, which plans to split its studio from its Starz network and streaming service, has argued that its film and TV library, which includes multibillion-dollar franchises such as Hunger Games, Twilight, and John Wick, should garner a stronger market valuation on a standalone basis.
Songbirds & Snakes is a prequel to earlier Hunger Games films, focusing on the backstory of the villainous President Coriolanus Snow, played in this film by Tom Blyth, and the evolution of the series’ dystopian empire.
In The Hunger Games, contestants, called tributes, are forced to compete to the death as a societal ritual. The new installment explores Snow’s relationship to the tribute Lucy Gray Baird played by Ms. Zegler.
The movie garnered a 91% approval score from audiences, according to Rotten Tomatoes, while 62% of critics recommended the picture. — Bloomberg