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The January Box Office Slump Continues with Little Relief in Sight, as Top 6 Order Remains Unchanged

With a lack of any strong new studio releases, the Christmas holdovers not showing typical stamina (though some of moderate might), and some offbeat releases flexing a bit but not enough, domestic grosses fell to weakened $66 million this weekend.

That’s down 13 percent from last year, which had the benefit of two December releases (“Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”) outgrossing anything in this weekend’s Top 10. 2024 releases, led by “Mean Girls” (Paramount) and “The Beekeeper” (Amazon MGM) at No. 1 and No. 2 again, totaled about $30 million, which is one-third better than new films last year amassed. Still, the year-to-date box office is about 10 percent lower.

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When the top six repeat in the same order, a dropoff is to be expected. Bleecker Street attempted to fill the void with their sci-fi acquisition “I.S.S.,” starring Ariana DeBose, but failed to make much impact with a seventh place showing of $3 million.

Winter weather was harsher this year than last, which hurt. As with other years, NFL playoff games both Saturday and Sunday were no help to multiplexes.

Opportunities abounded for multiple distributors to fill the void. Several awards contenders expanded ahead of Tuesday’s Oscar nominations, IMAX scored with Queen concert footage, and Ava DuVernay’s “Origin” had its initial release (apart from a one-week awards-qualifying run) with some decent sampling.

POOR THINGS, Emma Stone, 2023. © Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Poor Things”©Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things” (Searchlight) expanded to 1,400 theaters to gross over $2 million. With a major nomination haul and further expansion ahead, it’s only $3 million behind the director’s “The Favourite” five years ago at the same point, with two weeks less playtime. That bucks the tide of late year contending films’ performance.

“Queen Rock Montreal” (IMAX) — which remastered the iconic band’s 1981 concert footage both visually and audibly — played only 387 IMAX screens. With $2 million, they nearly made the Top 10. This is the kind of event that IMAX and others have presented in the past, but not so much with weekend play. It’s an example of how after the success of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” that pure concerts with little added cinematic effects make sense for theaters to elevate.

“Origin,” primed to benefit from wide release next week if it manages some key Oscar nominations, opened in 120 theaters nationwide. Its reported gross of $875,000 ($7,000 per theater) includes revenue from its two-theater December 8 one-week qualifying run, consistent with how this normally is handled. (Neon reported $117,000 for the initial weekend).

This creative attempt to convey the essence of “Caste,” Isabel Wilkerson’s acclaimed non-fiction best-seller about how hierarchy determines our daily lives, has received some very strong reviews, though at 76, its Metacritic score reflects some dissent. It’s a tricky film to play commercially, with no obvious “right” way to go. Ultimately, audience response from these initial viewings will be essential to overcoming any obstacles, along with the potential nomination boost. Understanding that, this is a promising start.

Jeffrey Wright stars as Thelonious "Monk" Ellison in writer/director Cord Jefferson’s 

AMERICAN FICTION

An Orion Pictures Release

Photo credit: Claire Folger

© 2023 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved.
“American Fiction”Claire Folger/Orion Releasing LLC

“American Fiction” (Amazon MGM) jumped to 850 theaters for $1.8 million, up to $8 million so far and with significantly more potential ahead. “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight), in 295, grossed $533,000. “The Zone of Interest” (A24), moving more slowly but now at 82, did $447,000.

The Top 10 included some healthy holds below the top two films. Of the remaining seven holdovers, all but one fell 30 percent or less. That’s more impressive considering last weekend was boosted by the holiday. “Migration” (Universal) at No. 5 dropped only 15 percent. That comes in its fifth weekend, now just shy of $100 million total. Very unusually for the studio, they have held back its PVOD release, which is usually set as early as after the third weekend in theaters.

The Top 10

1. Mean Girls (Par) Week 2 – Last weekend #1

$11,700,000 (-59%) in 3,326 (+25) theaters; PTA: $3,058; Cumulative: $50,049,000

2. The Beekeeper (MGM Amazon) Week 2 – Last weekend #2

$8,482,000 (-49%) in 3,330 (+27) theaters; PTA: $2,547; Cumulative: $31,185,000

3. Wonka (WB) Week 6; Last weekend #3

$6,440,000 (-24%) in 3,136 (-210) theaters; PTA: $2,054; Cumulative: $187,168,000

4. Anyone but You (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #4

$5,400,000 (-24%) in 2,928 (-7) theaters; PTA: $1,844; Cumulative: $64,222,000

5. Migration (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$5,300,000 (-15%) in 3,094 (-130) theaters; PTA: $1,713; Cumulative: $94,672,000

6. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (WB) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$3,655,000 (-30%) in 2,423 (-318) theaters; PTA: $922; Cumulative: $114,190,000

7. I.S.S. (Bleecker Street) NEW – Cinemascore: C-; Metacritic: 54; Est. budget: $14 million

$3,023,000 in 2,520 theaters; PTA: $1,200; Cumulative: $3,023,000

8. Night Swim (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #7

$2,700,000 (-42%) in 2,708 (-549) theaters; PTA: $997; Cumulative: $23,754,000

9. The Boys in the Boat (Amazon MGM) Week 5; Last weekend #8; also on PVOD

$2,535,000 (-26%) in 2,012 (+5) theaters; PTA: $1,260; Cumulative: $43,862,000

10. Poor Things (Searchlight) Week 7; Last weekend #15

$2,043,000 (+14%) in 1,400 (+820) theaters; Cumulative: $20,396,000

Other specialized and award-contending titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

Origin (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2023

$875,000 in 125 theaters; PTA: $7,000

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Kino Lorber) NEW – Metacritic: 91; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2023

$12,609 in 2 theaters; PTA: $6,305

Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest (Slice of Pie) NEW – Festivals include: Santa Barbara 2022

$4,500 in 2 theaters; PTA: $2,250

Queen Rock Montreal (IMAX) (restoration)

$2,000,000 in 387; PTA: $5,168

One from the Heart (Rialto) (reissue)

$11,000 in 2 theaters; PTA: $5,500

Driving Madeleine (Cohen) Week 2

$45,138 in 50 (+44) theaters; PTA: $903; Cumulative: $75,142

The Color Purple (WB) Week 4; also on PVOD

$720,000 in 781 (-397) theaters; Cumulative: $59,282,000

Ferrari (Neon) Week 4

$278,000 in 327 (-335) theaters; Cumulative: $18,103,000

The Teachers’ Lounge (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4 8

$32,374 in 16 (+8) theaters; Cumulative: $125,685

The Iron Claw (A24) Week 5

$1,624,000 in 1,321 (-270) theaters; Cumulative: $31,547,000

All of Us Strangers (Searchlight) Week 5

$533,000 in 295 (+175) theaters; Cumulative: $2,316,000

Memory (Emick for Ketchup) Week 5

$16,000 in 81 (-70) theaters; Cumulative: $363,103

Freud’s Last Session (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$324,782 in 634 (+602) theaters; Cumulative: $505,200

American Fiction (Amazon MGM) Week 6

$1,800,000 in 850 (+225) theaters; Cumulative: $8,004,000

The Zone of Interest (A24) Week 6

$447,684 in 82 (+57) theaters; Cumulative: $1,557,000

Anselm (Janus/Sideshow) Week 6

$32,585 in 18 (-6) theaters; Cumulative: $338,293

Poor Things (Searchlight) Week 7

$2,043,000 in 1,400 (+820) theaters; Cumulative: $20,396,000

The Boy and the Heron (GKids) Week 7

$814,529 in 580 (-30) theaters; Cumulative: $43,196,000

Godzilla Minus One (Emick for Toho International) Week 8

$667,000 in 531 (-74) theaters; Cumulative: $51,891,000

Radical (Pantelion) Week 12

$6,850 in 15 (-1) theaters; Cumulative: $8,693,000

The Holdovers (Focus) Week 13; also on PVOD

$70,000 in 127 (+27) theaters; Cumulative: $18,760,000

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