Box Office: ‘Mean Girls’ Musical Rules With $32 Million Holiday Debut

There’s a new queen bee at the box office. Paramount’s “Mean Girls” musical ruled over the competition with $28 million over the weekend and $32 million through the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday.

Thanks to enduring love for the original 2004 film, an insanely quotable touchstone that turned Oct. 3 into a national holiday, and the power of TikTok, “Mean Girls” is proving the Plastics are still box office draws. The movie musical cost just $36 million and was initially commissioned for Paramount+ before enthusiastic test screenings convinced the studio to release it on the big screen.

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Internationally, “Mean Girls” collected $6.5 million from 16 territories, representing less than half of its planned international footprint. The film opens next weekend in the U.K. and New Zealand, followed by other major territories.

Ticket buyers were unsurprisingly 76% female while 60% were under the age of 25. They gave the film a mixed “B” CinemaScore, which is possibly because some of them didn’t realize it was a musical. (The studio intentionally downplayed the song and dance aspect in promotional materials.)

Paramount shared data from exit polls that indicate 75% of audiences knew it was a musical before buying a ticket, while 16% left the theater “disappointed” by the genre. “I don’t think there was any surprise. Audiences knew what they were getting into,” says the studio’s distribution chief Chris Aronson. He believes opening weekend results were a “testament to the longevity of Tina Fey’s iconic property,” adding that “her contemporary twist resonated with moviegoers.”

Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. directed “Mean Girls,” based on the Broadway version of the 2004 movie. Fey returned to write the screenplay, which has a Gen Z polish but remains faithful to the original story about Cady Heron (Angourie Rice takes over the role from Lindsay Lohan, while Renee Rapp embodies Regina George), who returns to the U.S. from Africa and navigates the terrifying jungle of high school.

“The Beekeeper,” an action thriller directed by David Ayer, opened in second place with an impressive $16.8 million over the weekend and an estimated $19.1 million through Monday. It also opened internationally with $20.4 million from 49 territories for a worldwide tally of $39.1 million.

Moviegoers were more receptive than critics to “The Beekeeper,” which landed a “B+” CinemaScore and 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jason Statham stars in the film as Adam Clay, a former operative who sets out to exact revenge after his friend falls for a ruinous phishing scam and dies by suicide. Miramax produced and financed the film, so Amazon MGM (which acquired North American rights) is only on the hook for the cost of booking the movie in domestic theaters.

“This is a strong opening for a new action thriller,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research and believes “The Beekeeper” will be a bigger draw overseas. “Action thrillers perform best in the international markets, and Jason Statham is an established action star throughout the world.”

The weekend’s other new release couldn’t make fetch happen. Sony and Legendary’s biblical satire “The Book of Clarence” collapsed in ninth place with $3.1 million between Friday and Monday. It’s a terrible start for the film, which carries a $40 million price tag and requires a modest turnout to justify its budget.

Directed by Jeymes Samuel and starring LaKeith Stanfield, “The Book of Clarence” follows a down-on-his-luck man who tries to capitalize on the rise of Jesus Christ by claiming to be a new Messiah sent by God. Ticket sales may struggle to rebound at the international box office. “The comedy and subject matter are a difficult sell abroad,” says Gross.

Several holiday holdovers rounded out box office charts. “Wonka,” a fantasy musical starring Timothée Chalamet as the eccentric fictional chocolatier, claimed third place with $11 million during the four-day frame. The film has been a sweet treat for Warner Bros. and movie theater owners alike, with a healthy $178 million in North America and surpassing $500 million globally to date.

“It marks a tremendous box-office milestone, solidifying Timothee Chalamet’s position as a true movie star and demonstrating the power of a non-franchise film to thrill audiences,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior analyst at Comscore.

Sony’s R-rated comedy “Anyone but You” keeps climbing at the box office and landed at the No. 4 spot with $8.5 million over the long weekend. The film, which cost $25 million and stars Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, has rebounded nicely after starting slow in North America. It has generated $56.4 million domestically and $78 million worldwide.

Universal and Illumination’s animated comedy “Migration” glided to fifth place with $6.1 million over the weekend and an estimated $8.3 million through Monday. The movie, which was released around Christmas, ended up having legs and has collected $87.8 million in North America and $172 million globally.

Elsewhere, A24’s holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest” surpassed $1 million while playing on only 25 screens. It’s a solid turnout for a foreign language film that takes place just outside of Auschwitz. Based loosely on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis, “The Zone of Interest” follows a Nazi commandant who tries to build a dream life for his family directly next door to the concentration camp. Jonathan Glazer directed the film, which premiered at Cannes and looks to be in the awards race. It will continue to roll out nationally over the next few weeks.

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