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This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Tim Meadows in a scene from Mean Girls.Jojo Whilden/The Associated Press

Winter storms and cinema shutdowns in North America didn’t dampen the opening weekend for Mean Girls. The Paramount release, adapted from the Broadway musical and the 2004 Tina Fey movie, earned US$28-million in its first three days in theatres according to studio estimates Sunday. Not accounting for inflation, that’s more than the US$24.4-million the first movie made in its opening weekend.

The Mean Girls competition over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend included several new releases, like the Jason Statham action movie The Beekeeper and the Jay-Z produced biblical satire The Book of Clarence, in addition to a slew of awards contenders capitalizing on buzz from recent nominations and the Golden Globes.

As with Barbie, another enthusiastically pink movie, female audiences made up the vast majority (76 per cent) of opening weekend ticket buyers for Mean Girls. According to exit polls, 70 per cent were between the ages of 18 and 34, which, yes, means that it had appeal for audiences who hadn’t been born when Regina George was first introduced to the world.

“The property is iconic,” said Chris Aronson, Paramount’s president of domestic distribution. “Tina Fey is legendary and her contemporary twist has resonated with audiences, particularly the female audience.”

This iteration of Mean Girls stars Angourie Rice, Auli’i Cravalho and Renee Rapp, who played Regina on stage. It was originally planned to go straight to streaming on Paramount+, but the studio pivoted after test scores were positive. Social media played a big part in getting the word out and Mean Girls also inspired groups of friends to go to the movies together. An estimated 40 per cent went with two or more friends.

Fey returned to write and co-star in the new film, which was directed by Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. and cost a reported US$36-million to produce. Reviews have been more positive than not, with a 70 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences gave it a B CinemaScore which may not bode especially well for word-of-mouth appeal. Recent musicals like Wonka and The Color Purple scored in the A-range. The studio is optimistic after this weekend though. It also made US$6.5-million from 16 international markets.

“It’s no secret that the release calendar is a little light for the first couple months of the year and because of the reception to this film we stand a chance of broadening this audience,” Aronson said. “It really is a crowd-pleaser.”

Amazon and MGM’s The Beekeeper debuted in second place with an estimated US$16.8-million from 3,303 theatres. Men made up approximately 62 per cent of ticket buyers and audiences overall gave it a B+ CinemaScore. By the end of the four-day weekend, the studio expects it to have made US$19.1-million. Miramax handled the international distribution for The Beekeper, which also grossed US$20.4-million from 49 territories.

Third place went to Wonka, which added US$8.4-million in its fifth weekend. The Timothee Chalamet-led musical has now made over US$178-million domestically and US$500-million globally.

“Musicals are on a roll,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “It seems like a lot of studios run away from putting musical on their films for fear of limiting their audience pool, but I think this is a genre Hollywood should embrace and highlight.”

The Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell romantic comedy Anyone But You, a Sony release, is turning into a bit of a sleeper success as well, making nearly US$7-million in its fourth weekend. By Monday, its domestic total should be around US$56.5-million. Universal and Illumination’s Migration rounded out the top five with US$6.2-million in its fourth weekend.

Not everything landed this weekend, though. The Book of Clarence, a faith-based comedy/drama with a starry, ensemble cast including LaKeith Stanfield, Omar Sy, RJ Cyler, David Oyelowo, Alfre Woodard and Teyana Taylor is not off to a promising start. The Legendary Pictures release opened to an estimated US$2.6-million from just over 2,000 locations.

Written and directed by the British singer-songwriter Jeymes Samuel (stage name The Bullitts), it was self-consciously styled after Golden Age biblical epics like The Ten Commandments. It has also gotten mixed reviews, with 68 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore.

The Walt Disney Co. sent its 2020 Pixar film Soul to movie theatres this weekend as well, where it made US$429,000 from 1350 locations in North America. It’s the first of several Pixar movies, including Luca and Turning Red, that Disney is bringing to theatres this winter after all had streaming-only releases on Disney+ during the pandemic.

Hollywood’s awards season is also in full swing, and though many top contenders are already available to watch at home, some are still rolling out in theatres and hoping to capitalize on new nominations and awards shows like last weekend’s Golden Globes. Poor Things, which was a big winner, added US$1.8-million from only 580 theatres. All of Us Strangers took in US$474,000 from 120 screens. American Fiction expanded nationwide and made US$1.9-million from 625 screens. The Zone of Interest, playing on 25 screens, also crossed US$1-million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Tuesday.

1. Mean Girls, US$28-million.

2. The Beekeeper, US$16.8-million.

3. Wonka, US$8.4-million.

4. Anyone But You, US$6.9-million.

5. Migration, US$6.2-million.

6. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, US$5.3-million.

7. Night Swim, US$4.7-million.

8. The Boys in the Boat, US$3.5-million.

9. The Book of Clarence, US$2.6-million.

10. The Iron Claw, US$2.4-million.

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