‘Mean Girls’ Gives Box Office Some Life With $32 Million MLK Opening

With no blockbusters in sight for weeks, Paramount’s musical and MGM’s “The Beekeeper” top the charts with modest results

Busy Philipps as Mrs. Geroge in "Mean Girls" (2024) (Paramount Pictures)
Busy Philipps as Mrs. Geroge in "Mean Girls" (Credit: Paramount Pictures)

Paramount’s “Mean Girls” and Amazon MGM’s “The Beekeeper” are leading the box office charts on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, as theaters are trying to navigate a post-holiday winter with no major tentpoles on the slate.

“Mean Girls” will take No. 1 with an estimated $32 million 4-day opening, just above its $30 million pre-release projections with a solid result against its reported $36 million budget. The break-even point for this musical adaptation of the 2004 teen comedy is so low in part because Paramount originally greenlit this film as a Paramount+ streaming movie, only to pivot to a theatrical release after strong test screenings.

Audience reception has been decent but not excellent, receiving a B on CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 70% critics and 67% audience. This is usually a signal for shorter legs at the box office, but “Mean Girls” might be able to buck the trend due to a lack of major competition in the coming weeks.

Such has been the case for Sony/Columbia’s “Anyone But You,” which earned a solid but not spectacular B+ on CinemaScore and has since legged out to $56.7 million in North America over the past four weekends against a $25 million budget, including $8.5 million on this holiday weekend to take fourth on the charts.

For “Mean Girls” to have similar legs, it will have to find the same kind of traction among female moviegoers that “Anyone But You” did, which will mean it must find interest beyond fans of the original comedy starring Lindsey Lohan. We will discover in the coming weeks whether it can do that, but the demographic breakdown for this weekend is a hopeful sign, with 74% female and 60% under the age of 25, showing that the film is drawing Gen Z women even more than nostalgic millennials.

While “Mean Girls” is drawing female audiences, men are going towards “The Beekeeper,” which Amazon MGM released in 3,303 theaters this weekend after acquiring the domestic distribution rights from Miramax. The conspiracy thriller is estimated to earn an extended opening weekend of $19.1 million, and could crack $20 million if it continues to beat estimates over the coming two days.

The opening weekend audience for “Beekeeper” is coming in at 62% men, with 38% over the age of 45. Reception has been mostly positive with a B+ on CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 68% critics and 93% audience.

The big bust of the weekend is TriStar/Legendary’s “The Book of Clarence,” which is opening in the No. 9 slot to a poor 4-day weekend total of $3 million from 2,010 theaters. Sony acquired the distribution rights to this $40 million film produced and financed by Legendary as part of a deal struck with the studio in 2022; but reception hasn’t been strong enough to allow the film to stand out with a B on CinemaScore and RT scores of 68% critics and 75% audience.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “Wonka” has become the first film since the end of summer 2023 to pass $500 million at the global box office, adding $10.8 million over MLK weekend to bring its total to $178.6 million domestic and approximately $506 million worldwide.

After a year for Warner Bros. that was largely defined by the historic success of “Barbie” and the extended deep slump of DC, “Wonka” has given the studio something else to hang its hat on. In a winter devoid of megahits like “Avatar: The Way of Water” or “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the Timothée Chalamet musical has become the major ticket seller for movie theaters at a time when strike delays have depleted the short-term release slate.

Universal/Illumination’s “Migration” completes the top 5 with $8.3 million grossed over the extended weekend. With $87.8 million grossed domestically, the original animated film should crack $100 million in North America, but the film’s limp performance overseas has left it with a $172 million running total worldwide — roughly a quarter of the $634 million global total that Illumination’s “Sing” earned in 2016.

Finally, Disney theatrically released the Pixar film “Soul” for the first time in 1,350 locations, grossing an estimated $557,000 over four days. While this is technically not a re-release, “Soul” is performing as such as it is hitting the big screen three years after premiering exclusively on Disney+ during the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney will give another COVID-era Pixar release, “Turning Red,” a similar theatrical play on Feb. 9.


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