The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes projection eyes $50 million opening weekend at box office

'Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes' projecting a $50 million opening weekend at the box office
Credit: @TheHungerGames Twitter

The record-breaking box-office collection streak of The Hunger Games franchise seems to be in jeopardy as the upcoming dystopian science fiction action film directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Michael Lesslie and Michael Arndt is tracking towards its worst-ever opening in North America as per an exclusive report confirmed by Deadline on Thursday.  

Only weeks away from its worldwide release, the projected $50 million opening weekend at the box office seems quite dull, considering that the estimated budget of the film is around $100M. It will be less than half of what the franchise’s least successful film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, made in its 2015 opening by collecting about $102.6 million on an estimated budget of $160 million.

Even though the prior installments have grown famous throughout the years, this latest installment is a total reinvention of the franchise, which has grossed over $3 billion worldwide across four films.

The film is based on the 2020 novel by Suzanne Collins, serves as a prequel to The Hunger Games (2012), and is the fifth installment in The Hunger Games film series. Set 64 years before the events of the first film. The plot follows the events that eventually lead a young Coriolanus Snow on the path to becoming the tyrannical leader of Panem, including his relationship with the Hunger Games tribute Lucy Gray Baird during the year of the 10th Hunger Games. 

The cast of the movie, alongside Tom Blyth as Coriolanus “Coryo” Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird, includes: 

Peter Dinklage as Casca “Cas” Highbottom, Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow, Josh Andrés Rivera as Sejanus Plinth, Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul, Fionnula Flanagan as Grandma’am, Burn Gorman as Commander Hoff, Ashley Liao as Clemensia Dovecote, Max Raphael as Festus Creed, Zoe Renée as Lysistrata Vickers, Nick Benson as Jessup, Isobel Jesper Jones as Mayfair Lipp, and George Somner as Spruce. 

On the other hand, the tributes for the 10th Hunger Games who form an alliance known as “the Pack,” include Mackenzie Lansing as Coral, the female tribute from District 4; Cooper Dillon as Mizzen, the male tribute from District 4; Hiroki Berrecloth as Treech, the male tribute from District 7; and Kjell Brutscheidt as Tanner, the male tribute from District 10. 

Other members of Lucy Gray’s traveling musician group, the Covey, include: 

Dakota Shapiro as Billy Taupe, who is Lucy Gray’s former love interest, Vaughan Reilly as Maude Ivory, Honor Gillies as Barb Azure, Eike Onyambu as Tam Amber, and Konstantin Taffet as Clerk Carmine. Additionally, Michael Greco and Daniela Grubert appear as Strabo Plinth and Mrs. Plinth, Sejanus’ parents, while Carl Spencer and Scott Folan appear as Smiley and Beanpole, two peacekeepers sent by the Capitol to District 12.

When the film premieres, the official soundtrack by Geffen Records will also be released.

Recently, the studio premiered The Hanging Tree,” the first song released from the soundtrack last Friday. In the upcoming film, audiences will witness the origin of the storied song when Lucy Gray Baird (Zegler) sings it for the very first time. Also heard in the second official trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, “The Hanging Tree” has been passed down through generations and was previously performed by Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.

Rachel Zegler – The Hanging Tree (from The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes)

If you recall, last year, composer James Newton Howard confirmed that he would return to score the film. 

The soundtrack also contains “Pure as the Driven Snow,” which was confirmed by film producer Nina Jacobson. As we know by now, music plays a more prominent role in the prequel, given the songbird’s Covey background. Due to this, producer Dave Cobb and the creative team drew heavily from Appalachian-country folk music, while early Dolly Parton and Sissy Spacek’s Loretta Lynn informed Lucy Gray’s sound. Zegler sang all of Lucy Gray’s musical numbers live during the production.

At last, the official premise of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” according to Lionsgate Films, is as follows: 

“Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow, is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute from impoverished District 12. 

But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy Gray’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.”

The film is scheduled to be released in the United States on November 17, 2023, by Lionsgate Films.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023) Official Trailer 2