Thanksgiving Box Office: ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel and ‘Napoleon’ Lead, ‘Wish’ Struggles

The 2023 Thanksgiving box office witnessed an unexpected twist in its competitive landscape. Disney Animation’s “Wish,” anticipated to be a frontrunner, trailed behind two major releases: “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” and Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon.”

‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ Triumphs

Dominating the box office, the ‘Hunger Games’ prequel garnered an impressive $42 million domestically over the Wednesday to Sunday corridor. The film’s total earnings reached nearly $100 million in the U.S. and $197.3 million globally, indicating a strong market presence.

‘Napoleon’ Surprises with Strong Performance

Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, secured the second spot with a surprising $32.5 million over the five-day period. The film, which appealed significantly to older male audiences, showcased Apple’s growing influence in the theatrical domain. Despite mixed reviews and a modest B- CinemaScore, it achieved a global launch of $78.8 million.

Disney’s ‘Wish’ Faces Box Office Challenges

“Wish,” an original Disney Animation feature, earned about $31.7 million over the five-day period, falling short of its projected $45-50 million opening. The film’s performance raises concerns about Disney’s recent box office patterns, following the underperformance of “The Marvels.” However, its A- CinemaScore and positive audience reception hint at potential longevity in the market.

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Other Notable Performances

  • “Trolls Band Together” and “Thanksgiving,” two family-oriented films, also marked their presence in the top five, though their performances reflect ongoing recovery challenges in the family box office sector post-pandemic.
  • “Five Nights at Freddy’s” achieved a significant milestone as the highest-grossing Blumhouse film globally, surpassing “Split” with a total of $283.1 million.
  • “The Holdovers” and “Saltburn” also made notable entries, though with more modest earnings.

Analysis: Market Trends and Future Outlook

This year’s Thanksgiving box office highlights a robust 40% increase from the previous year, yet it still lags behind pre-pandemic levels by 34%. The unexpected outcomes, particularly with “Napoleon” and “Wish,” indicate shifting audience preferences and the evolving landscape of theatrical releases. The results also underscore the importance of diverse content offerings and the increasing role of streaming platforms like Apple in shaping theatrical success.

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