LOS ANGELES, Nov 27 — The Hunger Games prequel stayed atop the North American box office over the long US Thanksgiving weekend, fending off an invasion by new Ridley Scott film Napoleon, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes took in an estimated US$42 million from Wednesday through Sunday — boosted by Thanksgiving holiday moviegoers — and US$28.8 million for the usual Friday-through-Sunday period.

This fifth in the Hunger Games series stars Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler and Peter Dinklage in a story about the 10th Hunger Games in the dystopian state of Panem.

In second place was the latest take on the Napoleon epic, this one from Sony, with ticket sales of US$32.5 million for the five-day weekend and US$20.4 million for three days.

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“This is a good opening for a period epic action adventure,” said analyst David A. Gross, who noted the “pedigree” of director Ridley Scott and strong leads in Joaquin Phoenix, as the French emperor, and Vanessa Kirby, as Empress Josephine.

The European setting should help the movie “over-perform abroad,” Gross said. But the film had an “enormous” production budget of US$200 million, he noted, and has generated lukewarm reviews, with many French critics panning historical inaccuracies.

Disney, meantime, did not quite get its Wish with the release of the lavish animation by that name. It took in US$31.7 million for five days and US$19.5 for three, which Gross said was roughly half what similar films have earned in the past.

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“The struggle is real for the US$200M animated film, and the Magic Kingdom itself,” Exhibitor Relations said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Wish” follows another disappointing opening for Disney; The Marvels recently saw the lowest debut ever in the studio’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Featuring the voices of Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine, Wish tells the story of King Magnifico, who from his island kingdom grants one wish a month.

In fourth, down two spots from last weekend, was Universal’s animated musical comedy Trolls Band Together. Led by voice actors Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, it sold US$25.3 million in tickets for five days, and US$17.6 million for three.

And in fifth was Sony slasher film Thanksgiving, at US$11 million for five days and US$7.2 million for three. Patrick Dempsey and Addison Rae star.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

The Marvels (US$9.2 million for five days; US$6.4 million for three)

The Holdovers (US$3.8 million; US$2.8 million)

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (US$2.3 million — it is playing in theaters only Thursdays through Sundays)

Five Nights at Freddy’s (US$2.4 million; US$1.8 million)

Saltburn (US$2 million; US$1.8 million)

— AFP