The box office came alive in the second weekend of 2024, with three new wide-release movies giving audiences a range of options to see their first new movie of the year. The Martin Luther King holiday has become the unofficial start of moviegoing in the new year, with new movies picking up from Christmas holdovers that have played in theatres for four or five weeks.
This year is no exception as the combination of MEAN GIRLS, THE BEEKEEPER and THE BOOK OF CLARENCE moved the needle in the right direction. The total for the first three days of the long weekend was $100.6M, compared to last year’s $105.2M. This was a solid result, especially since large areas of the Midwest and Northeast were dealing with extreme weather conditions.
This 4% shortfall narrows the deficit in 2024 compared with 2023, after last weekend produced an 18% lower box office than the same weekend in 2023. Only one more wide release is scheduled to open in the last two weeks of the month, Bleecker Street’s political space drama I.S.S. which arrives on 1/19.
As predicted, Paramount’s MEAN GIRLS claimed first place with an opening weekend gross of $28.0M. This musical comedy is a screen adaptation of a 2018 Broadway musical which was itself inspired by the original 2004 teen comedy film. The original MEAN GIRLS movie grossed $24.4M in its opening weekend from 4/20/2004 – 4/22/2004 and went on to earn $86.1M in total domestic box office.
That film struck a chord with audiences, becoming an instant classic based on its hilarious portrayal of the vicious infighting within a group of high school girls. Arriving 20 years after the original, the new movie attempts to reach female audiences of multiple generations, similar to BARBIE.
In the movie, a newcomer makes a big mistake by falling for the ex-boyfriend of the most powerful girl in the school. Tina Fey wrote the screenplay for both movies and as well alongside fellow SNL alum Tim Meadows. Jon Hamm adds his comedic flair as a sex education teacher. The cast of teenagers is relatively unknown, but perhaps not for long. The 2004 movie propelled the careers of Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, and Rachel McAdams.
This weekend’s MEAN GIRLS is scoring 70% with critics and 66% with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with the original’s 84% critics score and 66% audience grade. We expect the picture to continue to perform well over the next few weeks, especially considering the relative lack of alternatives. It may even surpass the box office for the 2004 movie. After spending $36M on production, the movie will need to reach $90M in worldwide gross to be profitable.
MGM’s THE BEEKEEPER finished in second place by grossing $16.8M in its debut. The film stars Jason Statham, the hardest-working actor in the business after having starred in five new movies over the last ten months. With all this screen time, our action hero may be running out of new ways to kill off the bad guys.
This time, Statham is deep in a personal vendetta with national implications, after having been exposed as a former operative in a powerful and secretive organization known as “Beekeepers”. While the story seems familiar, Statham has established a loyal following. Even though critics are lukewarm on the result giving it a 68% score on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences are cheering him on with a solid 93%.
You need to hand it to an actor who stays in his lane and delivers exactly what his fans want to see. THE BEEKEPER has a good chance of keeping near the top of the box office charts for several weeks. In third place, WONKA sweetened its total with the addition of another $8.4M, a decline of 40% from last weekend. Now in its fifth weekend, the #1 movie of the Christmas season has earned $176.2M over its 31 days in theatres.
Warner Bros. invested $125M to make the film and has now been rewarded with a worldwide gross of over $500M. Despite suffering a hard blow from the box office disappointments of movies in the DC Extended Universe, the studio has rebounded nicely with smashing successes for BARBIE and now WONKA, which have generated over $2B worldwide.
Sony’s ANYONE BUT YOU continues to surprise by landing a fourth-place finish with $6.9M in its fourth weekend. While this was a drop of 29% from last weekend, it moved UP one spot on the charts, which is no mean feat considering that it went up against three new releases. This romantic comedy has benefitted from positive word of mouth as audiences are giving it an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
After 24 days, the film grossed $55.2M domestically, which is similar to the $56.3M earned at this same point by TICKET TO PARADISE, the 2021 hit starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Up to this point, that movie has been the highest-grossing rom-com since the start of the pandemic. ANYONE BUT YOU’s success has prompted consideration of a potential sequel. It will also energize the career of Sydney Sweeney (White Lotus, Euphoria), whose next film MADAME WEB arrives on Valentine’s Day, in only four weeks.
Fifth place went to Universal’s MIGRATION, which earned $6.2M, a drop of 38% from last weekend. Illumination’s animated feature has earned $85.8M over 31 days in theatres. An encore performance may be under consideration, as animated films tend to live on if they can establish the personality of their characters. In the last 12 months, only THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE and SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE seem destined to see a sequel.
Where Are We as of 1/11
With the 2024 film year now underway, we are beginning our year-over-year comparison with 2023 results. After one week, the 2024 total box office is 81% compared with 2023 and 60% compared with 2019.