Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes proves box office success
By Fiona Flowers
December 19, 2023
Image Credit: Photo by LIONSGATE
“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” the highly anticipated film prequel to “The Hunger Games” series, premiered in the United States on Nov. 17, 2023, garnering mixed critical reviews while simultaneously proving a box office success.
Based on the 2020 novel by Suzanne Collins, the premise follows the villain origin story of Cornelius Snow, the antagonist of “The Hunger Games” trilogy, 64 years before the events of the first novel. Starting off as a student in Panem, a fictionalized dystopian society in what used to be North America, Snow’s rise to power and subsequent descent into madness is chronicled through his involvement in the 10th Hunger Games as a mentor to tribute Lucy Gray Baird.
Starring Tom Blyth as Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray, the cast includes popular names such as Octavia Spencer, Peter Dinklage and Hunter Schafer in supporting roles.
Despite a lackluster financial first-weekend performance, the film quickly rose to the top of the box office and boasts a current cumulative worldwide gross of $243 million. Film and entertainment publisher Collider estimates it will reach $250 million within the next few days.
While it remains the only Hunger Games film to maintain a spot in the top two, where it currently sits, for over four weeks, it is the lowest grossing installment of the franchise. To contextualize, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” the most lucrative release, reached over $860 million with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 90%.
Riley Fick, a sophomore majoring in government and politics at UMD, saw the film in theaters while home for Thanksgiving break, and said that she was pleasantly surprised by the novel adaptation.
“I read the book when it first came out, and was excited when I heard they were making a movie, but did not expect it to be as good as the original series,” she said. “It was pretty long, but I really liked it. As far as adaptations go, it was similar to the book, and can stand alone from the other movies.”
James Tierney, a sophomore majoring in finance and supply chain management, had a conflicting perspective.
“It was way too long and felt nothing like the other movies. I get that it's a prequel and has to have different characters, but it didn’t even feel like it took place in the same [Hunger Games] universe. Especially the scenes in the Capital, it felt like a parody,” he said.
Despite its split critical and audience reception, there is no denying the film's pop culture relevance, drawing fans back out to the theaters for the first Hunger Games content released since the last film in 2015.
For those interested in watching, the film is being exclusively shown in theaters across the nation, and is expected to be available for streaming on Starz or Peacock later on in 2024.