Lionsgate’s prequel film “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” hits preview screenings tonight, and reviews for the title are a bit mixed.
With 102 reviews counted on Rotten Tomatoes, the title has come in at 64% (6.4/10) which is a new low for the franchise – just below the second of the two ‘Mockingjay’ films at 70% (6.3/10).
It’s a far cry from the franchise’s peak with the second film “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” at 90% (7.6/10). The film is on track for an opening weekend estimated to be around $50 million domestically and a further $50 million overseas.
That’s a global start of around $100 million, as much as the film’s production budget. Its opening domestic weekend will be the lowest of the bunch behind ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ at more than double that with $102 million, and ‘Catching Fire’ which debuted to more than triple that at $158 million. Here’s a sampling of review quotes:
“Our world so hauntingly echoes Collins’s fictions that the film, shot last summer, moves us to spend its gargantuan running time reflecting on contemporary headlines, mourning the generational tragedy of anger and fear begetting anger and fear.” – Amy Nicholson, The New York Times
“Despite the lacking wrap-up, “Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is, like most of the “Hunger Games” films, a well-made dystopian yarn that’s better acted than it needs to be.” – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
“The glue holding it all together is its steadfast portrayal of the cynicism and emotional neglect required to regard other human beings as numbers and meat that have to be placated to be useful.” – Justin Clark, Slant Magazine
“However flimsy the pretext, Lawrence treats it with respect, mining tension and momentum.” – Danny Leigh, Financial Times
“Even devotees of Collins’s book might walk away from this adaptation calloused and confused, so rushed does the final turn of Corio’s screw feel.” – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
“This movie finally ties itself into various knots to prefigure the later world of Katniss, but the time to end the Games came long ago.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“All the elements that made the Hunger Games a success are there — the dark political metaphors, the horrifying dystopian premise, the beautiful actors who make the whole bitter pill easier to swallow — but Songbirds and Snakes feels simply like a rehash.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse
“‘The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,’ unlike the stellar predecessors of the series, feels curiously starved for real insights into the opposing shades of the human soul.” – Tomris Laffly, The Wrap
The previous four movies in “The Hunger Games” franchise managed to pull in $3 billion worldwide at the box-office.