10 Reasons Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes’ Box Office Is Disappointing After $98 Million Opening


  • The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had a disappointing box office opening, possibly due to mixed critic reviews and a shift in focus to villain Coriolanus Snow.
  • Limited press due to the SAG-AFTRA strike and a long gap since the last Hunger Games film may have impacted the prequel’s box office performance.
  • The prequel’s longer runtime and a change in target audience may have also contributed to its lower success compared to the original trilogy.



The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had a disappointing opening weekend at the box office, and this could come down to a number of factors. Despite the high projections for the Hunger Games prequel film, there seems to be something about Coriolanus Snow’s story that hasn’t been enough to draw audiences to theaters. This is especially frustrating considering the overall success of the original Hunger Games movies and years of fans hoping for an on-screen return to Panem. Unfortunately, Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hasn’t answered this call.

Of course, there’s always a chance Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will turn things around at the box office. However, on its opening weekend, the film only managed $98 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). This is especially concerning since the domestic box office is at $44 million. Considering the first The Hunger Games movie brought in $152 million globally in its opening weekend, and even Mockingjay – Part 2, the original film franchise’s lowest-grossing film, managed $102 million its first weekend, this is a significant disappointment. Though it’s challenging to figure out precisely why these numbers come in lower than expected, there could be a few viable reasons.

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10 Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Had The Hunger Games’ Worst Reviews

The Hunger Games Prequel Failed To Impress Critics Before Its Release

Lucy Gray Baird looking shocked in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes next to Katniss Everdeen sitting on a throne in her red Mockingjay suit from The Hunger Games

Things had begun to fall apart for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes before its official theatrical release. Critic reviews began streaming in the days before, and they revealed mixed opinions about the Hunger Games prequel film. The critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is only 62 percent, significantly lower than the other films within the franchise (which range between 70 and 90 percent). The audience score for Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is 91 percent, but it’s possible that the reviews from critics deterred those who were on the fence about the prequel from heading to the theaters.

9 Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Had Limited Press Due To Strikes

The SAG-AFTRA Strike Meant Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Actors Couldn’t Promote The Film

Lucy Gray Baird looking worried and Coriolanus Snow turning his head around in The Hunger Games the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

A significant part of an actor’s role leading up to the film’s release is promotion, and the cast of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was barred from fulfilling this duty until shortly before the film was released. The SAG-AFTRA strike, which started in July 2023, meant that those like Rachel Zegler and Tom Blythe could not appear on talk shows to bolster audiences for their new film until the strike ended on November 9th. This meant there was minimal time to get those not already following Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes through production interested enough to make it to opening weekend.

8 Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes’ Box Office Is The Lowest In The Franchise

The Hunger Games Prequel Continued The Downward Box Office Trend

As a whole, the Hunger Games movies were massively successful. However, the box office numbers for the four films starring Jennifer Lawrence were on a steady decline. As far as opening weekends go, the first movie made $158 million globally. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire followed this up with $153 million, but The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 only made $122 million and $102 million on their first weekends, respectively. When considering this, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ $98 million opening weekend aligns with this downward trend despite the predictions for a triumphant return.

RELATED: How Much The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Cost To Make & What Box Office It Needs

7 Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Lacked The Franchise’s Action

The Hunger Games Prequel Was Less About The Games Themselves

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Hunger Games Arena

The Hunger Games established audiences’ expectations for Panem’s brutal event, but The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes threw all this out the window. While Katniss’ story was all about her experience as a tribute in a high-tech futuristic world, the prequel movie centered more on Corio’s experience as a Capitol citizen and Hunger Games mentor. Additionally, being set 64 years before The Hunger Games and so soon after the devastating war, the arena seen in Lucy Gray’s games is nowhere near as advanced as what audiences were used to. Therefore, the simple, less action-packed version of the games may have fallen flat in comparison.

6 The Hunger Games Franchise Ended Too Long Ago

Mockingjay – Part 2 Released 8 Years Before Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen next to the poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 was released eight years before The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hit theaters, and this may have been just too long for the prequel film to garner the desired amount of interest. Returning to such a massive franchise requires a delicate balance of relevancy and nostalgia, and the Hunger Games prequel may have missed the mark for both. It has been too long for interest in Katniss’ story to have remained high, but perhaps not quite long enough for a strong sense of nostalgia. Of course, predicting this Goldilocks period isn’t an exact science, but Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ low numbers indicate something gone wrong in this regard.

The Hunger Games Prequel’s Box Office Numbers Reflect The Book’s Original Sales

Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth as Lucy Baird and Coriolanus Snow in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes above a green background of the book's cover

Like the Hunger Games movies, Suzanne Collins’ book trilogy was massively popular. The Hunger Games sold around 28 million copies, Catching Fire sold 19 million copies, and Mockingjay saw around $18 million. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book had a massive debut, with 500 thousand copies sold, but a few years later, there are only about 3.5 million copies of the prequel in print. This indicates a similarly lower interest in this story than that of Katniss’ which might account for the lower theatrical turnout.

4 Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes’ Villain Focus Changed The Target Audience

Snow’s Story No Longer Caters To The Same Target Audience

As a young adult series following a teenage heroine, The Hunger Games’ target audience is young adult women. Of course, the franchise has pulled the attention of a far more diverse demographic, but a target audience is important when understanding how a book or film will perform. Centering on a male murderer like Coriolanus Snow, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes shifted this focus significantly, and this might have meant a loss of interest from those who would have originally been drawn to The Hunger Games. This could also mean that those whom the prequel might have appealed to discounted the film, thinking it would be more like the original trilogy.

3 The Mockingjay Movies Had A Negative Impact On The Hunger Games Brand

Mockingjay – Part 2’s Failures May Have Tainted Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes

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Book-to-screen adaptations are difficult for Hollywood to get right, but the Hunger Games movies managed to remain relatively true to the source. To continue this, the Mockingjay book was split into two parts, which had become standard practice for franchise enders by 2015. However, this decision put the film’s director in hot water since it was perceived as an effort to drag out the franchise’s financial success. Unfortuantely, finishing things off this way meant a lingering bad taste in fans’ mouths regarding The Hunger Games, which means a potential loss of interest in returning for Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

2 Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Long Runtime May Have Been A Problem

The Prequel Was Longer Than Any Of The Other Hunger Games Movies

Snow looking at Lucy Gray and holding her face in The Hunger Games The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had a rather long runtime at 2 hours and 38 minutes. This is about as long as the individual Lord of the Rings movies and far shorter than notoriously lengthy films like Avatar. Additionally, it’s only a little more than ten minutes longer than the first Hunger Games movie, so it’s easy to see why Lionsgate didn’t think this would be an issue. However, Katniss’ films spend a lot more time in the action of the arena, whereas Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes centers on Snow’s internal conflict. The film managed to be a faithful adaptation of the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book, but it may have been a lot for many to sit through.

1 Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Isn’t The Hunger Games Prequel Audiences Wanted

Hunger Games Fans Hoped For Haymitch Or Finnick Prequels

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was an intelligent extension of the Hunger Games story, providing a foundation for the games and retroactively changing how Snow and Katniss’ rivalry is perceived. However, it was a prequel that no one asked for. In the years following the conclusion of The Hunger Games books and movies, fans have grown even more curious about the games that characters like Haymitch and Finnick participated in and have been begging to see these events play out on screen. Though these stories wouldn’t add much to the foundational themes of The Hunger Games, they might have drawn more interest at theaters than The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

  • The Hunger Games The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Poster

    The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

    Release Date:

    Francis Lawrence

    Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Jason Schwartzman, Peter Dinklage, Josh Andrés, Josh Andrés Rivera, Viola Davis


    157 Minutes

    Action, Adventure, Drama

    Michael Lesslie, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins

    Color Force, Lionsgate


    The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

    The Hunger Games


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