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‘Mean Girls’ Drives $100 Million Box Office Weekend, but It May Be the Last One Until March

Led by the musical adaptation of “Mean Girls” (Paramount) and a healthy assist from this year’s Martin Luther King Birthday weekend’s action release “The Beekeeper” (Amazon MGM), grosses nearly matched the same period last year. However, that’s likely the best we’ll see for a while. Theaters will wait until at least March, with its potentially strong franchise/sequel releases, for a better indication of whether 2024 will be as grim as suggested.

The weekend also featured several top awards contenders led by “Poor Things” (Searchlight) in advance of potential Oscar nominations. With a weaker release schedule ahead, these films have the opportunity for better-than-average upticks with plentiful screen availability.

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“Mean Girls” was #1 with $28 million, while “The Beekeeper” with Jason Statham took second with a little under $17 million. Both are non-franchise titles (the former an update of the hit 2004 comedy, via its Broadway adaptation) and cost $40 million or less. However, both grossed under the respective top two of MLK weekend 2023 with “Avatar: The Way of Water” at $33 million in its fifth weekend and “M3GAN” grossing $18 million in its second. The weekend is estimated at $101 million, compared to $105 million in 2023. Year to date we’re down about seven percent ($299 million compared to $339 million).

Sony’s comedic religious parable, “The Book of Clarence” (financed by Legendary Pictures though) with LaKeith Stanfield, was the third new wide release. It grossed just $2.6 million at #10, which kept the weekend from equalling or improving on last year. It wasn’t even the third best of the weekend’s openers — “Guntar Kaaram” (Prathyangira), a Teluga language Indian film in 800 theaters will be ahead for the three days — and reflects the risk of trying something more original

Jason Statham in The Beekeeper
“The Beekeeper”Amazon MGM Studios

The month isn’t lagging that much behind 2023, which rode on the strength of “Avatar” (38 percent of the whole month’s gross). There’s also green shoots in in risk taking like Paramount’s switching “Mean Girls” from streaming to theatrical, and Amazon MGM picking up Miramax’s “Beekeeper” for domestic release. These will pay future dividends.

“Anyone but You” (Sony) had the best hold in the Top Ten, down 29 percent, and rose to #4 for its best weekend ranking yet. With $55 million in and more to come, it reinforces the positive message that non-sequels with lower budgets can draw grosses.

“Wonka” (Warner Bros.), now at $500 worldwide, fell 40 percent to take third, with domestic at $176 million. The studio’s other two Christmas releases lagged. “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” fell to sixth at $108 million domestic, less than a third of 2018’s original. Worldwide it will struggle to hit $400 million, compared to $1.15 billion previously. With a $200 million+ budget before marketing, that could mean a loss.

“The Color Purple” is in freefall. In its third week it lost nearly two thirds of its theaters to gross $1.9 million, for $58 million so far. With dwindling chances of an Oscar boost and limited foreign appeal, the $100 million production has no shot at profit.

The second weekend of Universal’s horror entry “Night Swim” fell 60 percent to seventh at about $4.6 million. Its animated “Migration” is #5, with just under $89 million so far. George Clooney’s “The Boys in the Boat,” another modestly budgeted original, is #8 and $39 million so far.

Disney brought previous Disney + exclusive”Soul” to theaters with deadly results. It will gross an estimated $429,000 in 1,350 theaters. A24’s “The Iron Claw” fell just short of the top 10 with another $2.4 million and $29 million in. It is lapping Neon’s “Ferrari,” also a wide Christmas release, with Michael Mann’s film looking to end up under $20 million domestic.

More impressively, with continued play Hazao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” (GKids) has passed $40 million, while “Godzilla Minus One” (Toho International) is over $50 million.

POOR THINGS, Emma Stone, 2023. © Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Poor Things”©Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Poor Things” is waiting for Oscar nomination announcements to add to its already strong national footprint. Though it has lost some theaters in its 800-run expansion, it actually had its best per-theater average since its second weekend, grossing another $1.8 million and already at $17 million.

“American Fiction” (Amazon MGM) rose to 625 theaters, ahead of the 580 now for “Poor Things.” It grossed a very decent $1.9 million, with a similar $3,000 per theater. “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight) hasn’t had the same level of interest so far in its slower rollout. It grossed $474,000 in 120 theaters, compared to $430,000 last weekend in 42. But don’t count out longer term word-of-mouth helping this sustain a longer run.

Going even slower is A24’s “The Zone of Interest.” It reached 25 theaters in its fifth weekend, with $237,000. That’s a $9,500 PTA. This is positioned to add considerably more with its anticipated nominations ahead.

The Top 10 (3-day weekend)

1. Mean Girls (Par) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 59; Est. budget: $36 million

$28,000,000 in 3,791 theaters; PTA: $7,386; Cumulative: $28,000,000

2. The Beekeeper (MGM Amazon) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 54; Est. budget: $40 million

$16,789,000 in 3,303 theaters; PTA: $5,083; Cumulative: $16,789,000

3. Wonka (WB) Week 5; Last weekend #1

$8,380,000 (-40%) in 3,346 (-461) theaters; PTA: $2,504; Cumulative: $176,194,000

4. Anyone but You (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #5

$6,940,000 (-29%) in 2,935 (-150) theaters; PTA: $2,365; Cumulative: $55,179,000

5. Migration (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$6,190,000 (-38%) in 3,224 (-488) theaters; PTA: $1,920; Cumulative: $85,756,000

6. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (WB) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$5,265,000 (-50%) in 2,741 (-812) theaters; PTA: $1,921; Cumulative: $108,228,000

7. Night Swim (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$4,660,000 (-60%) in 3,257 (+7) theaters; PTA: $1,431; Cumulative: $19,170,000

8. The Boys in the Boat (Amazon MGM) Week 4; Last weekend #6

$3,525,000 (-37%) in 2,007 (-680) theaters; PTA: $1,756; Cumulative: $39,356,000

9. Guntar Kaaram (Prathyangira) NEW – Est. budget: $30 million

$(est.) 2,700,000 in 800 theaters; PTA: $3,375; Cumulative: $(est.) 2,700,000

10. The Book of Clarence (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 60; Est. budget: $40 million

$2,575,000 in 2,010 theaters; PTA: $1,281; Cumulative: $2,575,000

Other specialized and award-contending titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

Driving Madeleine (Cohen) NEW – Metacritic: 60; Festivals include: Toronto 2022

$24,026 in 6 theaters; PTA: $4,004

Inshallah a Boy (Greenwich) NEW – Metacritic:; Festivals include:

$6,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,000

I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Film Desk) (reissue)

$6,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,500

The Color Purple (WB) Week 3

$1,900,000 in 1,178 (-2,040) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $57,850,000

Ferrari (Neon) Week 3

$570,000 in 662 (-1,459) theaters; PTA: $861; Cumulative: $17,449,000

The Teachers’ Lounge (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$24,577 in 8 (+5) theaters; PTA: $3,072; Cumulative: $85,198

The Iron Claw (A24) Week 4

$2,410,000 in 1,591 (-801) theaters; PTA: $1,509; Cumulative: $28,636,000

All of Us Strangers (Searchlight) Week 3

$474,000 in 120 (+78) theaters; PTA: $3,950; Cumulative: $1,534,000

Memory (Emick for Ketchup) Week 4

$100,000 in 151 (+137) theaters; Cumulative: $288,166

Freud’s Last Session (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$51,969 in 32 (+22) theaters; Cumulative: $151,739

American Fiction (Amazon MGM) Week 5

$1,906,000 in 625 (+511) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $5,222,000

The Zone of Interest (A24) Week 5

$237,976 in 25 (+19) theaters; PTA: $9,519; Cumulative: $939,000

Anselm (Janus/Sideshow) Week 5

$31,650 in 24 (+8) theaters; Cumulative: $281,096

Poor Things (Searchlight) Week 6

$1,807,000 in 580 (-170) theaters; PTA: $3,116; Cumulative: $17,230,000

The Boy and the Heron (GKids) Week 6

$1,099,000 in 540 (-370) theaters; Cumulative: $41,688,000

Godzilla Minus One (Emick for Toho International) Week 7

$853,000 in 570 (-480) theaters; Cumulative: $50,945,000

Radical (Pantelion) Week 11

$9,000 in 11 (-9) theaters; Cumulative: $8,682,000

The Holdovers (Focus) Week 12; also on PVOD

$83,000 in 100 (-53) theaters; Cumulative: $18,635,000

Oppenheimer (Universal) Week 26; also on VOD

$327,000 in 139 (+112) theaters; Cumulative: $326,425,000

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