A new movie opened in theaters this week — opened wide, even — and it opened at No. 1. Its numbers mean more to theaters at the moment than its makers: For theaters, they represent a momentary boost in grosses that will have to be divvied up with the studio, though hopefully some popcorn and soda were purchased as well. No concessions, however, are going to make up the money spent by Apple on the latest film from Matthew Vaughn. More than $600 million has been spent on Apple Original Films lately, and their collective gross has yet to reach two thirds of that price tag — one third, if you give theaters their cut.
The latest casualty in the Apple Universe is Argylle, the mysterioso spy caper from Matthew Vaughn that inexplicably cost $200 million and hasn’t resonated with either critics or the public so far. The former are currently rating it at 34% on the Tomatometer (lower than Vaughn’s previously lowest score of 42% for The King’s Man) as well as the lowest Cinemascore he has ever received with a C+, ranking below the B he received for Kick-Ass back in 2010. And the $18 million it opened with is lower than the $200 million productions of Killers of the Flower Moon ($23.2 million) and Napoleon ($20.6 million).
The two lowest openings ever for a film costing $200 million or higher were both during the pandemic. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet opened to $15 million and Patti Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 opened to $12 million while playing simultaneously on HBO MAX. Argylle cannot cloak itself in either excuse, as it can now be claimed as the lowest-opening non-pandemic release ever for a film carrying a budget as hefty. Will the money be excused as just another auteurist write-off for the mega-company supporting artists and their visions, or will the studio receive a similar level of criticism as Netflix has for churning out less than cinematic offerings with their limitless spending? At least the latter’s excuse is that they don’t typically release their movies in theaters. Argylle is on a path to gross less than $50 million domestic. What will the headlines say then?
Falling back to third place after a near victory last weekend is David Ayer’s The Beekeeper, which is, in fact, a hit with audiences. Another $5.3 million this weekend brings the film just shy of $50 million domestic and over $110 million worldwide. For what its worth, it’s the highest-grossing film of the year worldwide to date, and it is headed for close to $60 million in North America. Its second week January challenge, Mean Girls, is still the top domestic grosser of the year with $66.4 million. After three weeks at No. 1, it fell all the way back to sixth place this week but added $4 million to its total and will settle in the vicinity of $75 million, below the total of the 2004 original.
In second place this week was the opening to the latest season of The Chosen. The first three episodes put out by Fathom Events brought in $6 million and $7.4 million since Thursday. The season 3 finale brought in $3.6 million over the first February weekend last year. The TV show has made over $5 million since opening on Thursday. Coming in fourth is Paul King’s Wonka, which made $4.8 million and got its domestic total over $200 million, making it the ninth 2023 release to do so. It has also just passed both Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning and The Little Mermaid with $571 million to become the seventh highest-grossing film of last year globally.
Hanging out again in the top 10 is the rom-com Anyone But You with $3.5 million, driving its total over $76 million domestic and $151 million worldwide. Netflix may want to capitalize on that Glen Powell momentum and get Richard Linklater’s festival-acclaimed Hit Man into theaters for an actual wide release before its streaming date in June. Rounding out the remaining holiday fare we have Universal and Illumination’s Migration with $4.1 million, putting its total over $106 million (and almost $222 million worldwide), and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom with just over $2 million to surpass $120 million (and $423.5 million worldwide).
Audiences are still catching up on the Oscar nominees. Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction made $2.3 million and is now up to $15 million. Poor Things was just behind this weekend with $2.1 million and has now crossed $28.2 million and $68.3 million worldwide.
Diablo Cody returns with a new screenplay this week. Lisa Frankenstein, starring Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse, hopes to lure in the moviegoers who helped revive Jennifer’s Body over the years. The PG-13 film is being released by Focus Features in hopes of achieving their first No. 1 opener since Downton Abbey in 2019.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Universal Pictures