May 28, 2024

Ridley Scott’s historical epic “Napoleon” may not have conquered the top spot in North America, but it emerged victorious at the worldwide box office.

The film, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the infamous French ruler, debuted to $78.8 million, including $46.3 million internationally — enough to stave off the competition on global charts. “Napoleon” brought in $33.1 million domestically in its first five days of release, landing in second place behind “The Hunger Games” prequel “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” added $26.2 million at the international box office, bringing its weekend tally to $68.8 million. Lionsgate’s tentpole, starring Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth in an action-adventure that predates the saga of Katniss Everdeen, has grossed $197.2 million globally to date. With its $100 million price tag, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” appears to be well positioned in its theatrical run. But ticket sales haven’t lived up to the original series, so it’s too soon to tell if there’s enough interest to justify future sequels and spinoffs set in the bleak world of Panem.

“Napoleon,” which has received mixed reviews and audience scores, cost $200 million and is far from a financial winner despite its reign this weekend at the global box office. But Apple, which backed the movie and hired Sony Pictures to distribute it theatrically, isn’t overly concerned with the profits and losses of its movies (for now). Similar to the company’s first big-screen swing, Martin Scorsese’s $200 million crime epic “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the company is hoping to build buzz for its eventual launch on Apple TV+. In the best circumstances, these films will generate awards attention as well. Apple is testing this strategy again in 2024 with Matthew Vaughn’s “Argylle” via Universal Pictures.

At the international box office, “Napoleon” doubled the debuts of “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Scott’s last film “House of Gucci” at the same points in their theatrical rollouts, according to Sony. The biggest market was the U.K. with $6.6 million over the five days followed by France (despite harsh reviews from the country’s critics and a derisive retaliation from Scott, who cried that “the French don’t even like themselves”) with $5.6 million. Other top territories were Germany with $3.4 million, Italy with $3.1 million and Mexico with $2.9 million. It has yet to open in China, Japan or South Korea.

This weekend’s other newcomer, Disney’s animated “Wish,” debuted to $17.3 million from 27 international markets, about 40% of its eventual overseas footprint. Globally, the musical fable about the Wishing Star that so many Disney characters have wished upon, has earned a disappointing $49 million in its opening weekend. It cost $200 million and is shaping up to be the second consecutive misfire for Disney, following “The Marvels,” which opened earlier in November.

The latest comic book adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed $110 million overseas and $187 million globally so far. At this rate, the big-budget sequel will end its box office run as the lowest-grossing MCU movie in history — by a landslide. This ignominious distinction currently belongs to 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” with $264 million, not adjusted for inflation.

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