In what will be a revived week for moviegoing post actors strike heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is looking to lead a global frame with a $100M+ start.
The feature take of the Suzanne Collins’ prequel novel, who is also an EP here, about the early days of ultimate villain Coriolanus Snow and the Hunger Games, is eyeing $50M on tracking and another $50M abroad. Through four movies, the Hunger Games franchise has reaped $3 billion worldwide.
The Francis Lawrence-directed pic is one of four big studio wide releases in addition to Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s Trolls Band Together, TriStar/Spyglass Media’s Eli Roth directed Thanksgiving horror movie and Searchlight’s Taika Waititi directed soccer comedy Next Goal Wins.
We hear that there’s room for upside. Working in Lionsgate’s favor far more than other major studios during the actors’ strike is that they nabbed a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement for the movie since they’re a non-AMPTP company. With the strike ending on Nov. 9, the studio was able to pull off a big Hollywood global premiere last week in London and again on Monday in LA. The pic’s talent including Rachel Zegler, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman and fresh face Tom Blyth, who plays Snow, made a mad dash to the finish line to get their schedules together and blast the horns on this $100M budgeted movie. One semi-handicap for the movie is that the novel’s sales weren’t on par with Collins’ previous novels. However, the hope is that once good word of mouth gets out about the movie that the unpredictable (by tracking marketing standards) female 12-34 demographic shows up. The movie is hot with women under 25.
Stateside previews begin at 3PM. The movie is booked at 3,700+ locations in North America, including 1,600 premium priced format screens including IMAX, Premium Large Format (AMC Dolby, Cinemark XD, Regal RPX, and many others), and Motion Seats (DBOX, 4DX, MX4D).
This weekend, the movie is going day-and-date in 87 key territories sans Japan which will open on Dec. 22. Top markets are expected to be a mix of UK, Germany, France, Australia, Mexico and Brazil.
Offshore rollout begins today including in France, where it led the first showings in Paris this afternoon local time. Korea is also going today, where the movie kicked off in second place, behind the start of Five Nights at Freddy’s. China launches Friday, and the film is leading presales for that day there, but lagging in Saturday and Sunday presales.
The first Hunger Games directed by Gary Ross and starring Jennifer Lawrence in her first big blockbuster post her first Oscar nom for Winter’s Bone, nabbed an A CinemaScore. Lawrence’s stretch as director counted CinemaScores of an A for Catching Fire, and an A- apiece for Mockingjay Part 1 & 2.
Sixty-six reviews currently are at 62% certified fresh. Previous Rotten Tomatoes scores for the series include Hunger Games (84% certified fresh), Catching Fire (90% certified fresh), Mockingjay Part One and Part Two at 70% apiece.
The addition of three other studio movies will give the weekend B.O. some depth, hopefully rivaling last year’s pre-Thanksgiving weekend take for all titles of $100.6M per Box Office Mojo.
Trolls Band Together booked at 3,800 theaters hopes to capture moms and kids with a high $20M, possible low $30M opening. The first movie, released by 20th Century Fox when DreamWorks Animation had their deal there, opened to $46.5M back in 2016, but the sequel, Trolls World Tour was collateral damage due to the onset of Covid and received a largely PVOD release in homes over Easter weekend 2020. The Walt Dohrn-Tim Heitz directed movie follows the continuing adventures of Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) who are finally a couple. However, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boyband phenomenon, BroZone, with his four brothers: Floyd, John Dory, Spruce and Clay. BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch hasn’t seen his brothers since. But when Branch’s bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious pop-star villains—Velvet and Veneer —Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity. Previews start at 2PM Thursday with 3D showtimes. Thirty-four reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are at 62% fresh– but this movie wasn’t made for critics, rather kids. The Trolls franchise, which had some overseas B.O. on Trolls World Tour, has grossed over $396M worldwide.
The R-rated Thanksgiving is eyeing older men over 25 with a gross between $12M-$15M at 3,200 locations. Previews are in 2,700 locations starting at 7PM Thursday. The movie is based on the satirical trailer of an awe-wielding pilgrim see in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s double feature Grindhouse back in 2007. Logline: After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the infamous holiday. The movie stars People’s Sexiest Man Alive, Patrick Dempsey. The movie is 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Searchlight has Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins going wide this weekend with an eye on single digits. The movie follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamous for their brutal 31-0 FIFA loss in 2001. With the World Cup Qualifiers approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world’s worst soccer team around in this heartfelt underdog comedy. Following its world premiere at TIFF, Next Goal Wins is 48% Rotten with critics.
Amazon/MGM has the thriller noir Saltburn from Promising Young Woman Oscar winner Emerald Fennell debuting in seven NYC and LA locations. The movie which tells the story of an Oxford University student (played by Barry Keoghan) who worms his way into the graces of a popular jock colleague (Jacob Elordi), and his wealthy family during the course of a topsy-turvy summer counts 79% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.