The Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, opened to approximately $44 million at the domestic box office. This is less than the tracking figures ahead of the weekend suggested. Domestically it slightly overperformed with another $54 million to bring in a global total of $98.5 million.
In a lesson for Hollywood’s big studios, it is probably still going to turn a profit as the budget was well controlled at $100 million and most of that came from overseas distribution pre-sales and tax breaks. This lesson is cemented by the opposite end of the cost control spectrum with The Marvels.
It slumped to third place at the box office, potentially fourth by the time the weekend figures shake out. The movie already had the worst domestic opening for an MCU film to date with $46.1 million last weekend. Now it is looking at $10.2 million domestically for the weekend. That would set a new record of a 78% drop into week two.
Marvel Studios’ worst second-weekend drop of all time, and the worst for any Hollywood superhero film in modern history. This is worse still than Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania which had a 69% drop in its second week.
Still, it has a global total of $161.3 million globally. If it had exhibited some of the cost control and expense recovery of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes then it would be likely to make a small profit. However, The Marvels budget was a staggering $217 million, even after a generous $55 million tax break from the UK government. Potentially it is even higher after reshoots and other associated costs.
Once again, at Disney, budgets are simply out of control and actually the difference between a mildly successful year, and a catastrophic year that impacts across the balance sheet and into the share price.
The youngest lead cast member, Ms. Marvel actress Iman Vellani, seems to have the most mature attitude about all of this:
“I don’t want to focus on something that’s not even in my control, because what’s the point? That’s for Bob Iger. [The box office] has nothing to do with me.
I’m happy with the finished product, and the people that I care about enjoyed the film. It’s genuinely a good time watching this movie, and that’s all we can ask for with these films.
It has superheroes, it take place in space, it’s not that deep and it’s about teamwork and sisterhood. It’s a fun movie, and I’m just so happy that I can share it with people.”
Outside these higher-profile movies, the box office was kind to Trolls Band Together which came in second with $30.6 million ($108.1 million global). Eli Roth’s latest horror film Thanksgiving is the movie threatening to push The Marvels into fourth place, also currently with $10.2 million.
MGM and Amazon’s Saltburn was on a very limited release on just seven screens, taking $45,100 per screen. Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers was sixth with $2.7 million, and Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins was seventh with $2.5 million. Overall it was a fairly subdued box office. Top Gun: Maverick and Barbenheimer now seem like a distant memory and Hollywood remains in deep, deep trouble.
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