Box Office: ‘Argylle’ to Dethrone ‘Mean Girls’ With $15 Million-Plus Debut

Matthew Vaughn’s globe-trotting spy comedy “Argylle” is targeting $15 million to $20 million in its opening weekend. Those uninspired ticket sales will be enough to top box office charts and dethrone the “Mean Girls” movie musical, which has spent three weeks at No. 1.

Universal Pictures is distributing “Argylle,” which was produced and financed by Apple for $200 million. It marks Apple’s third big-screen bet following Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” (which debuted to $23 million) and Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” (which opened to $20.6 million). As with those big-budget tentpoles, though, it’ll be complicated to assess the financial results of “Argylle.”

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Of course, Apple doesn’t want to be associated with underperforming blockbusters. (It would take roughly $500 million in global ticket sales — a threshold that less than 10 films have reached in 2022 and 2023 — for a movie of this size and scale to break even at a traditional studio.) But Apple is one of the deepest-pocketed companies in the world. With a $3 trillion market cap, it doesn’t need to measure success in the same way as other Hollywood players. For now, these robust theatrical releases are seen as a potential competitive advantage to lure top talent and generate buzz for the streaming service, Apple TV+.

“Argylle” is the only new release of the weekend. And while it’ll likely be knocked down on box office charts by “Madame Web” or “Bob Marley: One Love” when those movies open on Feb. 14, the splashy send-up of James Bond won’t have direct competition until “Dune Part II” debuts in March. Overall, it’s been a dismal start to 2024 at the box office, with ticket sales down 11% from the same period a year ago.

Vaughn, whose bona fides include “The Kingsman” trilogy and “X-Men: First Class,” directed “Argylle,” which stars Bryce Dallas Howard as the reclusive author of a popular series of espionage novels. When the plot of her fictional books — which center on secret agent Argylle (Henry Cavill) — begins to mirror the covert actions of a real spy organization, her quiet nights at home become a thing of the past as the line blurs between fiction and reality. Sam Rockwell, Dua Lipa, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara and Samuel L. Jackson round out the cast.

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