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‘The Beekeeper,’ ‘Mean Girls’ Tie for First Place

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Have The Plastics met their match?

It’s too soon to tell, but Paramount’s “Mean Girls” musical is virtually tied with Amazon MGM’s “The Beekeeper” for first place in this unusually close box office battle.

Amazon MGM is reporting that “The Beekeeper” claimed the top spot with $7.4 million from 3,337 theaters in its third weekend of release. Meanwhile, Paramount is reporting that the “Mean Girls” musical has earned $7.3 million from 3,544 venues and could win the weekend for the third time… once final numbers are tabulated on Monday. (Sunday’s football schedule could keep the male-dominated audience for “The Beekeeper” at home and in front of the TV.)

Either way, it’s a dreary time at the box office. It’s the second weekend in a row sans a new major studio release, which means that January is concluding with a whimper. Spy comedy “Argylle” (from Apple and Universal) opens on Feb. 2, while the comic book adaptation “Madame Web” (from Sony) and biographical musical “Bob Marley: One Love” (from Paramount) debut on Feb. 14. But moviegoing isn’t expected to pick up in earnest until Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” lands in March.

“[Attendance in] 2024 is going to be uneven during the first half,” predicts David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “The actors’ strike ended 11 weeks ago. The industry cannot snap its fingers and deliver giant movies on a dime. They will return over time, and the release schedule will fill out.”

Whichever way the final numbers shake out, Paramount’s decision to put “Mean Girls” on the big screen rather than directly on Paramount+ has proven to be financially wise. The movie-turned-Broadway-musical-turned-movie has generated $60.8 million in North America and $84.3 million globally to date, a decent result given the film’s modest $36 million budget.

David Ayer’s action thriller “The Beekeeper” has grossed $41.6 million in North America and $100 million worldwide so far. The movie, starring Jason Statham as a former operative who exacts revenge on behalf of his friend, was produced and financed by Miramax. Amazon MGM (which acquired North American rights) is only on the hook for the cost of booking the movie in domestic theaters.

Given the lull, domestic box office charts look nearly identical to last weekend, with Timothee Chalamet’s “Wonka” in third place, Universal and Illumination’s animated “Migration” at No. 4 and Sony’s rom-com “Anyone But You” rounding out the top five.

“Wonka” has remained in the top three for seven consecutive weekends. It’s an ode to the musical comedy’s impressive staying power, as well as a sign of the complete lack of competition. “Wonka” added $5.9 million from 3,014 venues, boosting its domestic tally to $195 million. The family-friendly film, which cost $100 million, has grossed more than $552 million worldwide.

“Migration” crossed the $100 million mark after bringing in $5 million from 2,962 theaters this weekend. Overseas, the animated comedy has generated $104 million for a worldwide tally of $206 million. The film, about a family of ducks who head south for the winter, started slow at the holiday box office but managed to stick around long enough to justify its $70 million price tag.

The R-rated “Anyone But You,” in which Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell pretend to be the perfect couple while at a wedding, has also been a mainstay since Christmas. In its sixth weekend of release, the movie collected $4.8 million from 2,885 theaters. It has grossed $71.1 million domestically and $126.6 million worldwide on its $25 million budget. Score one for (true) love!

Elsewhere, Oscar nominations gave a slight box office boost to contenders like “Poor Things,” “American Fiction” and “The Zone of Interest.”

Searchlight’s off-beat comedy “Poor Things,” from director Yorgos Lanthimos and star Emma Stone, brought in $2.8 million from 2,300 venues after scoring 11 Academy Award nods. Those ticket sales mark a 32% jump from the weekend prior. So far, the film has collected $24.5 million domestically and $51 million globally, making it one of the more successful arthouse movies in these post-pandemic times.

Jonathan Glazer’s haunting Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest” earned $1.08 million on just 317 screens over the weekend. The A24 film has grossed $3 million to date.

Another best picture nominee, Cord Jefferson’s literary satire “American Fiction” posted $2.8 million from 1,702 theaters, a 65% boost from last weekend. The film, starring Jeffrey Wright as a frustrated novelist, has amassed $11.8 million in North America.

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