Mean Girls Is Queen Bee At The Weekend Box Office Again As I.S.S. Struggles In Its Opening Weekend

 Jaquel Spivey plays Damian Hubbard, Angourie Rice plays Cady Heron and Auli'i Cravalho plays Janis ‘Imi’ike in Mean Girls.
Jaquel Spivey plays Damian Hubbard, Angourie Rice plays Cady Heron and Auli'i Cravalho plays Janis ‘Imi’ike in Mean Girls.

Oh, January: it's hard to be disappointed because expectations are perpetually oh so very low. While history has shown that this month is capable of producing box office surprises, we didn't see any trace of that happening in the last three days. In my column last week, I noted that there was a lack of notable new wide releases coming on Friday and that a high weekend-to-weekend drop for Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.'s Mean Girls would be a pretty bad look. Seven days later, that observation has turned into reality, as Gabriela Cowperthwaite's sci-fi thriller I.S.S. failed to inspire any real interest, and the musical remake saw its ticket sales drip 59 percent compared to its debut.

All that being said, Mean Girls is still sitting in the number one spot of the Top 10, earning its second box office crown. Check out the numbers in the chart below and join me after for analysis.

Weekend Box Office Mean Girls January 19-21, 2024
Weekend Box Office Mean Girls January 19-21, 2024

Mean Girls Experiences A Sizable Weekend-To-Weekend Drop, But Still Holds On To The Top Spot In The Top 10

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In its opening weekend, Mean Girls' box office performance was a dictionary-fit depiction of "ok." Per Variety, the musical cost $36 million to produce (a figure that doesn't include publicity and marketing expenses), and by the end of the three-day weekend (extended by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday), the film had made $33.6 million. The numbers put the feature on solid footing... but there were red flags to be observed about its potential for long-term success. The movie earned praise from a healthy majority of critics, but there were signs last Sunday that industry optimism outweighed what was coming from movie-goers. The Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes sits five percent lower than the Critics Score, and the "B" grade that was given from CinemaScore surveys didn't suggest a new cinematic obsession has been born.

Now, seven days later, we're seeing those suggestions of lacking buzz get reflected in box office returns. The film was able to retain its #1 spot thanks due to the underwhelming debut of I.S.S., but the early numbers show that it has only make $11.7 million in the last three days, which is a tough 59 percent weekend-to-weekend drop. This would be an excusable result if audiences were lured to a hot new title that everybody was talking about, but what it instead suggests is that people who saw Mean Girls last week didn't feel compelled to tell all of their friends and family members that it was a must-see big screen experience.

Avantika, Renee Rapp, Angourie Rice and Bebe Wood on the set of Mean Girls
Avantika, Renee Rapp, Angourie Rice and Bebe Wood on the set of Mean Girls

Thus far, the remake has made $50 million domestically, which means that it is the highest grossing new film of 2024 thus far (having made more money since it dropped in theaters than either David Ayer's The Beekeeper ($31.1 million) or Bryce McGuire's Night Swim ($23.8 million). Having been released in some territories earlier this month prior to the movie's launch in the United States in Canada, Mean Girls has also made $16 million overseas – meaning that the film has made $66 million worldwide to date. Before the end of the box office run, the release will likely be considered a success, but it hasn't exactly caused a sensation.

How 2024's Mean Girls will ultimately compare to director Mark Waters' original from 2004 (albeit without adjusting for inflation) remains an open question. The remake got off to a hotter start than its predecessor (2004's Mean Girls made $24.4 million in its first three days)... but positive word of mouth resulted in that release only experiencing a 44 percent weekend-to-weekend drop in its second Friday-to-Sunday. Before the end of its domestic run, the Lindsay Lohan/Rachel McAdams film made $86 million, and it made $44.7 million in foreign markets. It's unclear (but looking increasingly doubtful) if the new movie will be able to surpass $130.7 million worldwide.

It certainly can be said that Hollywood is doing Mean Girls a lot of favors with the 2024 Movie Release Calendar. Much like this week, there are no highly anticipated releases coming on the immediate horizon, and that could give the musical time to at least try and stretch its legs.

I.S.S. Gets All But Ignored In Its Opened Weekend, Making Only $3 Million In Its Debut

I.S.S. has an intriguing high concept plot (American and Russian scientists aboard the International Space Station do battle after war breaks out between their two nations on Earth), it has a stellar Oscar-winning lead in Ariana DeBose as its headlining star, and it has gotten a mostly warm reception from critics. Unfortunately, it has been all but totally dismissed by mass audiences. The film wasn't exactly given "everywhere you see"-level promotion, but it was showing in over 2,500 locations in the last three days, and it only managed to make an average of $1,200 at each one.

Despite its genre and visual effects-heavy production values, I.S.S. was not and expensive movie to make ($13.8 million, according to SlashFilm), but it still looks like its negative box office legacy has been written. Making only $3 million in the first three days of wide release is hard to bounce back from, and the "C-" grade its received from CinemaScore suggests that it's not going to be saved by hype from the limited number of people who have seen it.

After An Underwhelming Debut, Anyone But You Crosses $100 Million Worldwide

To close out this box office report on a more positive note, I'll draw your attention to the box office performance of Will Gluck's Anyone But You. Opening at the end of last year opposite James Wan's Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom and Benjamin Renner's Migration, the film did not set the world on fire upon its release (debuting in fourth place and making just $6.2 million), and it looked like business as usual for romantic comedies on the big screen. The release wasn't exactly supported by critics (Sarah El-Mahmoud's Anyone But You CinemaBlend review notes that it's "neither raunchy enough nor romantic enough"), but the title has nonetheless hit a box office milestone: it is the 65th film from 2023 to earn more than $100 million worldwide. It's a nice little feather in the cap for stars Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell.

As alluded to earlier, there isn't a whole lot of big business coming to the box office anytime soon, as the only title getting a wide release this coming Friday is Jade Halley Bartlett's Miller's Girl starring Martin Freeman and Jenna Ortega. Will it surprise and cause a significant shakeup in the Top 10? Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to find out.