With high-profile ARGYLLE opening this weekend and no NFL games to contend with (flag football at the Pro Bowl doesn’t count!), it seemed that moviegoing would be reinvigorated after a disappointing January. Last month, all four weekends produced lower grosses than the same weekends last year.
Since the end of the pandemic, the industry has enjoyed a consistently upward trend but all that came to an end at the turn of the new year. Last year on this same weekend, KNOCK AT THE CABIN and 80 FOR BRADY opened to $14.1M and $12.7M respectively with all movies together generating $79.7M in the box office. This year, the weekend came in at a disappointing $61.8M.
Apple and Universal’s ARGYLLE led all movies with $18.0M in its opening weekend. Optimists had hoped for a result in the low- to mid- $20M’s but the actuals were well short of this. The spy thriller was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed the KINGSMAN trilogy of features. Over the past ten years, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2014), KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017) and THE KING’S MAN (2021) grossed a robust $951.9M worldwide.
The style of Vaughn’s ARGYLLE has been compared to his earlier work in the KINGSMAN movies, and it was expected to draw a similar response. The movie tells the story of Elly Conway, a reclusive author of a popular series of spy novels about a secret agent named Argylle who works to expose a global spy syndicate. However, the line between fiction and reality begins to blur when events in her own life begin to mirror the plot of her novels.
The movie includes a star-studded cast with Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Dua Lipa, John Cena, and Samuel L. Jackson. Critics have given it an unambiguous thumbs down with a 35% score on Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences were more positive with a 70% rating.
This is the third movie from Apple Studios to be released exclusively in theatres over the last four months, reflecting the $1B annual commitment to theatrical release that the company announced last March. Here is a summary of the results from those films.
APPLE STUDIOS THEATRICAL EXCLUSIVE RELEASES
- KILLER OF THE FLOWER MOON, released on 10/20/23 by Paramount
Budget $200M, Directed by Martin Scorsese, Opening Weekend Domestic $23.3M, Total Domestic $67.1M, Total Worldwide $156.7M
- NAPOLEON, released on 11/22/23 by Sony
Budget $200M, Directed by Ridley Scott, Opening Weekend Domestic $20.6M, Total Domestic $61.4M, Total Worldwide $219.4M
- ARGYLLE, released on 2/2/24 by Universal
Budget $200M, Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Opening Weekend Domestic $18.0M
Our key observations are:
- All movies have had $200m production budgets, making the climb to profitability a steep one.
- Each movie’s theatrical release has been managed by a different studio, as Apple may be conducting “tryouts” for its preferred long-term distribution partner.
- With KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON and NAPOLEON grossing $376.1M worldwide, we estimate that Apple will have netted approximately $188M of that amount, which helps defray the cost of production.
Combined with a parallel commitment by Amazon to spend $1B each year to produce eight to ten movies for theatrical release, the two streamers are directing significant resources to support the theatrical moviegoing experience. We have only to look at this weekend’s box office to see that this is having an impact, with Apple’s ARGYLLE finishing #1 and Amazon’s THE BEEKEEPER finishing #3.
Fathom Events’ release of Angel Studios’ THE CHOSEN SEASON 4: EPISODES 1-3 finished in second place with a three-day total of $6.0M and $7.5M over the four days since its Thursday opening. This release is part of a novel partnership between Fathom and Angel to bring to theatres collections of episodes from the highly successful TV series THE CHOSEN.
The result is a feature-length product that fans of the series can enjoy on the big screen. The same approach was used last year when the final two episodes of THE CHOSEN SEASON 3 were released as a theatrical feature, earning a very healthy gross of $1.67M on the day it opened (Thursday, 2/2/23) and $5.5M over its planned one week run (2/2/23 – 2/8/23). This year, all episodes from THE CHOSEN SEASON 4 will be released to theatres, followed by subsequent availability on streaming. Here is that schedule:
|2/1 – 2/14
|THE CHOSEN SEASON 4: EPISODES 1-3
|2/15 – 2/28
|THE CHOSEN SEASON 4: EPISODES 4-6
|2/29 – 3/6
|THE CHOSEN SEASON 4: EPISODES 7-8
This ambitious experiment may test the appetite of the series’ fans to go to the theatre to get the earliest view of the new season’s episodes. The opening weekend of each of these releases may wind up among the top five box office performers. The last release in the set will play for only one week, because Angel is releasing their next full-length feature movie CABRINI on March 7th and wants to clear the way for as many of their devoted followers as possible to see it.
Amazon’s THE BEEKEEPER finished in third place with $5.3M, a decline of 21% from last weekend. This brings its total gross to $49.9M domestic and $114.9M worldwide. In our Sunday report last week, we listed THE BEEKEEPER as the top-grossing film of 2024 so far. We also projected that it would be surpassed by ARGYLLE, but after this weekend’s very sluggish start, we now expect THE BEEKEEPER to remain the top movie of the year until DUNE: PART TWO rockets past its after the March 1st opening.
WONKA continues a satisfying run by finishing fourth and adding $4.8M, a drop of 16% from last weekend. After 52 days in theatres, WONKA has amassed $201.1M domestically and $558.6M worldwide.
MIGRATION was able to take in $4.1M, a decline of 16%. After 45 days, its total box office stands at $106.2M domestic and $216.7.M worldwide.
On the one hand, it has been satisfying to see these two pictures hold on so well, still placing in the top five in their third calendar month in theatres. On the other hand, the industry would have been better served if studios had released more quality movies over that period.
Where Are We as of 2/1/2024
After the first four weeks of the year, the 2024 box office has come in at 88% compared with the same weeks in 2023, and 62% compared with 2019.