Thanksgiving Box Office: 'Hunger Games' Outpacing Disney's 'Wish'

Thanksgiving Box Office: ‘Hunger Games’ Outpacing Disney’s ‘Wish’

The Black Friday box office saw “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” continue to stretch ahead of new releases like Disney’s animated adventure “Wish” and Apple and Sony’s historical epic “Napoleon.”

Lionsgate’s young adult drama gobbled up another $11.4 million on Friday, adding onto the $13.2 million it nabbed across Wednesday and Thursday. “Songbirds and Snakes” is looking to be the foremost beneficiary of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with rivals projecting a 40% drop over the traditional three-day frame.

Things seemed up in the air for “The Hunger Games” prequel after its $44 million opening last weekend. With a crowded theatrical marketplace and some lukewarm reviews, it wasn’t a sure thing that the Lionsgate release would still be able to draw a crowd after its fan-driven debut. But it isn’t only sticking around; it’s outpacing the newcomers. “Songbirds and Snakes” has a shot at nudging past a $100 million domestic gross through its first ten days of release.

Meanwhile, Disney’s “Wish” has fallen behind the projections that had it pegged to open on top of the box office. The animated feature took in $7.9 million on Friday from 3,900 theaters, pushing its running domestic tally to $20.2 million. That’s head-and-shoulders above the studio’s last animated outing “Strange World,” which bombed spectacularly last Thanksgiving with an $18.8 million five-day debut. But it’s still an underwhelming showing for Disney, which dominated the November holidays only a few years ago with family fare like “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Frozen II” and “Coco.”

“Wish” carries a hefty $200 million production budget. What’s more, it’s a bit of a legacy play for Disney, featuring Easter eggs and callbacks to the studio’s century-long history of fantasy films. With a five-day opening in danger of falling below $35 million, the animated adventure isn’t off to a good start. It’ll have to stick around theaters through the end of the year to become a success. Disney’s “Elemental” legged out to a $154 million domestic finish after a Pixar-worst opening of $29 million in June. A blueprint to salvage the run does exist and the film’s “A-” grade through Cinema Score shows there’s at least some positivity around the film.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures is releasing “Napoleon” in 3,500 theaters, including premium large format auditoriums like Imax, through a partnership with Apple Original Films. The tech streamer fronted the budget for Ridley Scott’s French history epic, while Sony is handling domestic distribution — a collaboration similar to Apple and Paramount’s handling of “Killers of the Flower Moon” earlier this fall. The Joaquin Phoenix-starring prestige play could end up above “Wish” for silver on domestic charts, slightly outpacing expectations and now projecting a five-day debut of about $33 million. That’s beating out some unenthused reviews and some similar audience sentiment, as evidenced by the “B-” grade on Cinema Score.

That’s all hunky-dory for “Napoleon” — sans its staggering $200 million production price tag. A projected $73 million global gross for the weekend doesn’t exactly measure up to the expectations that that budget might’ve indicated. Along with the similarly massive “Killers of the Flower Moon” now tapping out at the box office with about $145 million worldwide, that makes two Apple productions this fall that haven’t exactly paid off theatrically. Does the tech giant — with its nearly $3 trillion valuation — really care about that? Or does it see this all as mere marketing for both films’ streaming debuts on Apple TV+? Industry consensus has settled on the company possessing the latter mindset.

Universal’s “Trolls Band Together” is looking at $17.7 million over the traditional three-day frame, marking a 41% drop from its debut last weekend. Five-day holiday total is landing around $25.5 million. That’s good for fourth place on domestic charts and indicates that the DreamWorks Animation jukebox musical has some resilience against “Wish,” which is also fending for family audiences.

The second weekend of “Thanksgiving” looks to round out the top five, with its seasonal title helping it holdover through the holiday. The Eli Roth-directed slasher is looking to push its domestic total to $23.5 million through Sunday — a solid result given its $15 million production budget.