‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Debuts in Third Place

‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Debuts in Third Place
Photo by NEOM / Unsplash

The Chinese box office landscape saw a notable shift this past weekend as the much-anticipated Hollywood film, "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," made its debut. However, contrary to expectations, the film opened in third place, trailing behind the local crime drama "Last Suspect" and the Chinese family drama "Be My Family."

Local Films Lead the Charge

"Last Suspect," which narrowly lost the top spot last week to "The Marvels," reclaimed its leading position, grossing $10.1 million (RMB76 million) in its third weekend. This resurgence pushed its total earnings to an impressive $68.1 million after 17 days of release, as per data from Artisan Gateway, a leading box office consultancy firm.

Meanwhile, "Be My Family," in its second weekend, secured the second spot with a $4.8 million earning, bringing its total to $15.4 million after ten days in theaters.

Modest Opening for 'The Hunger Games'

In contrast, "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" garnered $4.6 million (RMB33.5 million), with Imax screens contributing $700,000 to this figure. This performance, although significant, is considerably lower than its franchise predecessors. The two previous "Hunger Games: Mockingjay" films, both released in 2015, had shown stronger openings, particularly the second part, which earned $15.8 million in its debut weekend.

The modest opening of this latest installment reflects a broader trend in Hollywood's performance in the Chinese market in the post-pandemic era.

Shift in Market Dynamics

China's box office has been undergoing significant changes, especially in the wake of the global pandemic. The weekend's results, while disappointing for some Hollywood studios, underscore a shifting preference among Chinese audiences, increasingly leaning towards local productions.

The preview screenings of the Chinese film "Beyond the Clouds" also highlighted this trend, as it earned $2.2 million, enough to secure the fourth spot ahead of its official release on Friday.

Hollywood's Ongoing Struggle

"The Marvels," another Hollywood production, found itself in the sixth position over the weekend, with a cumulative total of $15.8 million. This positioning further illustrates the challenges foreign films face in gaining traction in the current Chinese market.

Artisan Gateway's data indicates that the Chinese box office is on the verge of reaching a $7 billion total for the year. At $6.95 billion, the running total is significantly ahead of 2022, which was impacted by numerous challenges, but still lags 14% behind the same period in the pre-COVID year of 2019.