Hunger Games: A Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes, has set an unfortunate record for the franchise, despite debuting at the top of the US box office.
The prequel, which follows a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) – yes, the same Snow that torments Katniss and her allies in the original Hunger Games instalments – and District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) during the tenth Games and beyond.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film took the top spot of the US box office after its general release (November 17); but it's not all good news.
The film made $44 million at the domestic box office (North America, Canada and Puerto Rico) – whereas all four of its predecessors made more than $100 million when they were released.
Globally, the film, which has hit cinemas eight years after Mockingjay: Part Two starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, has debuted with $98.5 million.
The Hunger Games prequel also stars Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Hunter Schafer and Viola Davis – and is the longest ever instalment in the franchise, clocking in at a whopping two hours and forty minutes.
Despite placing fifth amongst its peers at the box office, the prequel beat competitors The Marvels and the Trolls sequel to take the top spot in the US.
A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes also features a fairly ambiguous ending; Snow and Lucy form a (very) uneasy alliance over the course of the film, which ends on a very sour note. So sour, in fact, that the last time Lucy is seen is when she's fleeing the eventual dictator as he's shooting at her.
Zegler has even given her take on the query, saying that in her mind, Lucy is alive and well:
"I can feel that she got away," she said. "She's so much more clever than anybody gives her credit for because it's just one of those stories where Coriolanus thinks that he's ahead of the game, and in reality, he's 12 steps behind her.
"I like to think that she truly, just like the bird and Lucy Gray in the poem that she sings, that she flies away and that she gets to be free the way she wanted to be..."
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is out now in cinemas.
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