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'Hunger Games' feasts, 'Napoleon' conquers but 'Wish' doesn't come true at Thanksgiving box office

This image released by Disney shows Asha, voiced by Ariana DeBose, in a scene from the animated film "Wish." (Disney via AP) This image released by Disney shows Asha, voiced by Ariana DeBose, in a scene from the animated film "Wish." (Disney via AP)

The Walt Disney Co.'s "Wish" had been expected to rule the Thanksgiving weekend box office, but moviegoers instead feasted on leftovers, as "The Hunger Games: Songbirds and Snakes" led ticket sales for the second weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Neither of the weekend's top new releases -- "Wish" and Ridley Scott's "Napoleon" -- could keep up with Lionsgate's "Hunger Games" prequel. After debuting the previous weekend with US$44.6 million, the return to Panem proved the top draw for holiday moviegoers, grossing US$28.8 million over the weekend and US$42 million over the five-day holiday frame.

In two weeks of release, "Songbirds and Snakes" has grossed nearly US$100 million domestically and US$200 million globally.

The closer contest was for second place, where "Napoleon" narrowly outmaneuvered "Wish." Scott's epic outperformed expectations to take US$32.5 million over the five-day weekend and an estimated US$20.4 million Friday through Sunday. The film, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor and Vanessa Kirby as his wife Josephine de Beauharnais, was also the top movie globally with US$78.8 million.

Reviews were mixed (61% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and ticket buyers were non-plussed (a "B-" CinemaScore), but "Napoleon" fared far better in theaters than its subject did at Waterloo.

"Napoleon," like Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon," is a big-budget statement by Apple Studios of the streamer's swelling Hollywood ambitions. With an estimated budget of US$200 million, "Napoleon" may still have a long road to reach profitability for Apple (which partnered with Sony to distribute "Napoleon" theatrically), but it's an undeniably strong beginning for an adult-skewing 168-minute historical drama.

"Wish," however, had been supposed to have a more starry-eyed start. Disney Animation releases like "Frozen II" (US$123.7 million over five days in 2019), "Ralph Breaks the Internet" (US$84.6 million in 2018) and "Coco" (US$71 million in 2017), have often owned Thanksgiving moviegoing.

But "Wish" wobbled, coming in with US$31.7 million over five days and US$19.5 million Friday through Sunday.

"Wish," at least, is faring better than Disney's Thanksgiving release last year: 2022's "Strange World" bombed with a five-day US$18.9 million opening. But hopes had been higher for "Wish," co-written and co-directed by the "Frozen" team of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and featuring the voices of Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine. "Wish," a fairy tale centered around a wished-upon star, is also a celebration of Disney, itself, timed to the studio's 100th anniversary and rife with callbacks to Disney favorites.

But instead of righting an up-and-down year for Disney, "Wish" is, for now, adding to some of the studio's recent headaches, including the underperforming "The Marvels." The Marvel sequel has limped to US$76.9 million domestically and US$110.2 million overseas in three weeks.

Still, the storybook isn't written yet on "Wish." It could follow the lead of Pixar's "Elemental," which launched with a lukewarm US$29.6 million in June but found its legs, ultimately grossing nearly US$500 million worldwide.

"Wish" also faced direct competition for families in "Trolls Band Together." The DreamWorks and Universal Pictures release opened a week prior, and took in US$17.5 million in its second frame (US$25.3 million over five days).

Also entering wide-release over the holiday weekend was Emerald Fennell's "Saltburn," the writer-director's follow-up to 2020's "Promising Young Woman." After debuting in seven packed theaters last weekend, "Saltburn" grossed about US$3 million over five days for Amazon and MGM. Barry Keoghan stars as an Oxford student befriended by a rich classmate (Jacob Elordi) and invited to his family's country manor. Top Stories

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