Weekend box office pre-Thanksgiving: ‘Hunger Games’ soars, ‘Marvels’ plummets

It was a busy weekend at the multiplex, leading into the often lucrative Thanksgiving corridor. And although there was plenty of choice at the buffet, not everything could be a success. Audiences got “The Marvels,” which dropped in its second weekend, as well as the domestic debut of “Trolls World Tour,” Taika Waititi’s family-oriented soccer comedy. “The next goal wins” and the R-rated slasher “Thanksgiving,” all in wide release.

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Serpents” is an interesting case study for a franchise that has been dormant for eight years and is testing the waters for a new era. Its $44 million from 3,776 locations, including 1,610 premium screens, marks a low for films with “The Hunger Games” in the title. Jennifer Lawrence’s four films all exceeded $100 million in their opening weekends (the highest being the first with $158 million in 2013, the lowest being the last with $102.7 million in 2015).

But it’s a more nuanced story for Lionsgate, which operates differently from traditional studios by licensing its titles to international distributors, which helps cover a significant portion of the film’s budget. The filmmakers kept that budget around $100 million, which was also offset by tax credits for filming in Germany.

With an additional $54.5 million from 87 international markets, the film has already grossed $98.5 million right out of the gate. The studio considers this a good start for the prequel, which takes place 64 years before Katniss Everdeen came onto the scene, with a new cast led by Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler.

Reviews were mixed on this one, which is an origin story about the future president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow. It currently carries a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Unlike many of its big-budget peers, “The Hunger Games” prequel also had the benefit of having its stars promote the film from the start, having secured an interim deal before the SAG-AFTRA strike has ended. In the aftermath of the strike, other studios were left scrambling to get their newly available stars out to promote their films before this weekend.

“Trolls Band Together,” the third in the animated series, debuted in second place with an estimated $30.6 million in its North American debut, a total that includes profits from early previews of the 4 november. “Trolls” opened internationally earlier and is expected to top $100 million worldwide this weekend.

The Jukebox Musical Universal and DreamWorks Animation brings back Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake in the lead roles and also features a high-profile reunion of (asterisk) NSYNC. It also has a mixed 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, but its younger audiences have been much more positive in giving it an A CinemaScore.

And after It started off rough last weekend., “The Marvels” continued to disappoint, falling 78% in its second weekend in North America with just $10.2 million from 4,030 locations. Internationally, it added $19.5 million, bringing its worldwide total to $161.3 million.

“The Marvels” was nearly beaten by an R-rated Eli Roth horror, “Thanksgiving,” which grossed an estimated $10.2 million from 3,204 sites. The film from TriStar Pictures and Spyglass Media Group is set in Plymouth, Massachusetts, after the Black Friday tragedy and stars Patrick Dempsey and Addison Rae. The studio hopes to attract students to the cinema during their vacations.

The Walt Disney Co. is also struggling with “The Next Goal Wins” by Searchlight Pictures its underdog football film starring Michael Fassbender, which grossed $2.5 million from 2,240 sites in its first weekend. Directed by Taika Waititi and based on a true story, the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was not well received by critics. Next weekend, the studio also has a new animated offering in the fairy tale musical “Wish.”

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