'Hunger Games' feasts, 'Napoleon' conquers Thanksgiving box office


NEW YORK — The Walt Disney Co.’s “Wish” had been expected to rule the Thanksgiving weekend box office, but moviegoers instead feasted on leftovers, as “The Hunger Games: Songbirds and Snakes” led ticket sales for the second weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Neither of the weekend’s top new releases — “Wish” and Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” — could keep up with Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” prequel. After debuting the previous weekend with $44.6 million, the return to Panem proved the top draw for holiday moviegoers, grossing $28.8 million over the weekend and $42 million over the five-day holiday frame.

In two weeks of release, “Songbirds and Snakes” has grossed nearly $100 million domestically and $200 million globally.

The closer contest was for second place, where “Napoleon” narrowly outmaneuvered “Wish.” Scott’s epic outperformed expectations to take $32.5 million over the five-day weekend and an estimated $20.4 million Friday through Sunday. The film, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor and Vanessa Kirby as his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais, was also the top movie globally with $78.8 million.

Reviews were mixed (61% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and ticket buyers were non-plussed (a “B-” CinemaScore), but “Napoleon” fared far better in theaters than its subject did at Waterloo.

“Napoleon,” like Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” is a big-budget statement by Apple Studios of the streamer’s swelling Hollywood ambitions. With an estimated budget of $200 million, “Napoleon” may still have a long road to reach profitability for Apple (which partnered with Sony to distribute “Napoleon” theatrically), but it’s an undeniably strong beginning for an adult-skewing 168-minute historical drama.

“Wish,” however, had been supposed to have a more starry-eyed start. Disney Animation releases like “Frozen II” ($123.7 million over five days in 2019), “Ralph Breaks the Internet” ($84.6 million in 2018) and “Coco” ($71 million in 2017), have often owned Thanksgiving moviegoing.

But “Wish” wobbled, coming in with $31.7 million over five days and $19.5 million Friday through Sunday.

“Wish,” at least, is faring better than Disney’s Thanksgiving release last year: 2022’s “Strange World” bombed with a five-day $18.9 million opening. But hopes had been higher for “Wish,” co-written and co-directed by the “Frozen” team of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and featuring the voices of Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine. “Wish,” a fairy tale centered around a wished-upon star, is also a celebration of Disney, itself, timed to the studio’s 100th anniversary and rife with callbacks to Disney favorites.

But instead of righting an up-and-down year for Disney, “Wish” is, for now, adding to some of the studio’s recent headaches, including the underperforming “The Marvels.” The Marvel sequel has limped to $76.9 million domestically and $110.2 million overseas in three weeks.

Still, the storybook isn’t written yet on “Wish.” It could follow the lead of Pixar’s “Elemental,” which launched with a lukewarm $29.6 million in June but found its legs, ultimately grossing nearly $500 million worldwide.

“Wish” also faced direct competition for families in “Trolls Band Together.” The DreamWorks and Universal Pictures release opened a week prior, and took in $17.5 million in its second frame ($25.3 million over five days).

Also entering wide-release over the holiday weekend was Emerald Fennell’s “Saltburn,” the writer-director’s follow-up to 2020’s “Promising Young Woman.” After debuting in seven packed theaters last weekend, “Saltburn” grossed about $3 million over five days for Amazon and MGM. Barry Keoghan stars as an Oxford student befriended by a rich classmate (Jacob Elordi) and invited to his family’s country manor.



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