Mean Girls Takes The Weekend Box Office Crown Marking Another Big Screen Musical Win

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Written By Maya Cantina

What will be the big box office trends in 2024? Superhero movies aren’t expected to dominate as they typically do as a result of the Hollywood labor battles last year and pushed release dates, so which genre or genres will start to fill that vacuum? Based on what we’ve seen thus far in January, it certainly seems like musicals are going to be a thing. In the last couple weeks, Paul King’s Wonka and Blitz Bazawule’s The Color Purple have performed well (the former winning its third box office crown last weekend), and Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.’s Mean Girls has now arrived to keep movie-goers tapping their topes.

The new musical made its debut in wide release this past Friday and was the biggest thing in theaters domestically the past three days. Check out the full Top 10 below and join me after for analysis.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)
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TITLE WEEKEND GROSS DOMESTIC GROSS LW THTRS
1. Mean Girls* $28,000,000 $28,000,000 N/A 3,791
2. The Beekeeper* $16,789,000 $16,789,000 N/A 3,303
3. Wonka $8,380,000 $176,194,000 1 3,346
4. Anyone But You $6,940,000 $55,179,000 5 2,935
5. Migration $6,190,000 $85,756,000 4 3,224
6. Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom $5,265,000 $108,228,000 3 2,741
7. Night Swim $4,660,000 $19,170,000 2 3,257
8. Guntur Kaaram* $4,100,000 $4,100,000 N/A 800
9. The Boys In The Boat $3,524,897 $39,356,000 6 2,007
10. The Book Of Clarence* $2,575,000 $2,575,000 N/A 2,010

Mean Girls Continues A Strong Trend For Musicals On The Big Screen

Not every big screen musical released in 2023 totally worked at the box office, but a good number of them did quite well. The aforementioned Wonka has made half-a-billion dollars thus far globally; Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, the biggest release of the year, features standout song-and-dance numbers; and Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid kept Disney’s streak of successful live-action remakes of animated classics alive. If Sam Wrench’s Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is counted among the wins as well, what you see is an audience expressing a whole lot of interest in seeing more music in their movies.

It should be noted that Paramount Pictures didn’t exactly go to great lengths promoting Mean Girls as a musical (watching the trailer, you get very little sense of the genre change), but it feels fair to include it as part of the trend conversation regardless. Since Friday, the feature has easily dominated all other options at the big screen and has made $28 million. That number is expected to get a nice boost tomorrow thanks to the three-day holiday weekend. Deadline reported a $30 million-plus prognostication last week, and it looks like that the feature will match expectations.

One nice little feather in the film’s cap is that its standard three day opening box office numbers have surpassed those of the Mark Waters-directed original – though that’s without accounting for inflation. When the Lindsay Lohan/Rachel McAdams movie hit theaters in the summer of 2004, it made $24.4 million in its debut, and it went on to make $130 million worldwide. Not only did it end up making “fetch” a thing, but it became a title beloved by a generation and spawned a multimedia franchise including a stage musical. That’s where the inspiration for the new film came from, and now Mean Girls‘ popularity is ready to sustain itself through a whole new generation.

Mean Girls Takes The Weekend Box Office Crown Marking Another Big Screen Musical Win

(Image credit: Jojo Whilden/Paramount)

Critics have mostly offered praise for the Mean Girls remake in the runup to its wide release, though the “B” grade that has been delivered via CinemaScore surveys makes one question what kind of legs it will ultimately demonstrate. The movie has been released at a time when the box office is pretty crowded with musicals, and without more positive word of mouth, it may get a bit lost in the chatter.

As will be discussed later, there isn’t a whole lot of new competition set to arrive next weekend, so it would be pretty rough to see Mean Girls take a weekend-to-weekend tumble over 60 percent when the numbers come in next Sunday. 

Providing Familiar January Big Screen Action, The Beekeeper Starring Jason Statham Settles For Second Place

As I noted in my CinemaBlend review of David Ayer’s The Beekeeper, there is a grimness in the new Jason Statham action movie that I didn’t particularly care for, but it certainly has plenty of dumb fun to offer (emphasis on dumb) and it got a mostly positive response from critics last week – reminiscent of what we saw with Jean-François Richet’s Plane one year ago. That early positivity didn’t end up pushing the film to become the new number one movie in North America, but the film did still have a decent start at the box office.

Information about the production costs of the film don’t seem to be available (Variety simply calls it a “modestly budgeted thriller”), but a $16.8 million start isn’t too shabby and would have put it in the Top 50 domestic openings last year. To keep the Plane comparison going, the Gerard Butler vehicle only made $10.3 million in its first three days, so The Beekeeper is off to a hotter start. It’s also worth noting that the 2023 movie finished its worldwide run making just $47.9 million, but that was considered enough to justify a greenlight for a sequel titled Ship.

By David Ayer standards, the result is a mixed bag. The movie didn’t make as much in its opening weekend as 2016’s Suicide Squad (duh) or 2014’s Fury, but $16.8 million is a higher figure than what was brought in by 2015’s Sabotage, 2012’s End Of Watch, or 2008’s Street Kings.

For Jason Statham, it’s not a bad win. As far as solo leading man turns are concerned (meaning no Expendables or Fast & Furious), the film isn’t finding the success of the Meg movies, but it’s far outpacing his last two Guy Ritchie collaborations (2021’s Wrath Of Man and 2023’s Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre).

The Beekeeper has earned a better CinemaScore than Mean Girls (a “B+”, to be specific), so how they compete in Weekend #2 will almost surely a topic of conversation in next Sunday’s box office column.

The Book Of Clarence Had A Terrible Opening Weekend And Barely Made It Into The Top 10

In 2021, director Jeymes Samuel earned a great deal of buzz with his wonderful contribution to the western genre The Harder They Fall, and it found a sizable audience as a Netflix exclusive. Unfortunately, the filmmaker’s follow-up The Book Of Clarence is not experiencing a similar fate. While the biblical epic throwback feature has earned a positive response from critics, it ended up having a disastrous opening weekend in theaters.

While Mean Girls and The Beekeeper got the bulk of the attention from movie-goers the past three days, The Book Of Clarence played in over 2,000 theaters nationwide and only managed to make $1,281 per location. Considering that the film reportedly cost $40 million to make (according to Variety), it appears as though it’s going to go down in the books as the first box office flop of 2024. 

How will things get shaken up next week with the arrival of Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s I.S.S. – the new science-fiction thriller starring Ariana DeBose? Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday for my box office report and get a preview of what’s ahead in the coming months with our 2024 Movie Release Calendar.

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