‘Wonka’ is No. 1 at the box office again at 2024’s start

By Lindsey Bahr | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Timothée Chalamet and “Wonka” topped the box office charts for the third time in its four weekends in theaters. Warner Bros.’ family-oriented musical added $14.4 million in ticket sales according to studio estimates Sunday, bringing its total domestic grosses to $164.7 million.

“’Wonka’ is following in the tradition of a film like ‘The Greatest Showman,’” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. That Hugh Jackman musical opened under $9 million in December 2017 and went on to gross $435 million globally.

“’Wonka’ is a perfect crowd pleaser released at the perfect time and it’s going to ride that wave into January,” Dergarabedian said. “It’s an opportune time for it to be in the marketplace.”

After finishing 2023 on a high note, 2024 is getting off to a slower start than last year, down around 16%, with the Universal/Blumhouse horror “Night Swim” as the only major new offering in theaters. The movie stars Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon as a couple with a sinister, supernatural swimming pool.

“Night Swim” drew in an estimated $12 million in its first weekend in 3,250 theaters in North America against a reported $15 million production budget. Including international showings in 36 markets, “Night Swim” is heading towards a $17.7 million global debut.

“Not only did it perform really well at the box office, but it’s going to make us look at every swimming pool with a little more trepidation,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s head of domestic distribution.

Horror movies are largely critic-proof, but with fairly negative reviews and a C CinemaScore rating, it’s unlikely to repeat the viral success of last year’s demon doll movie “M3GAN.”

“We don’t have ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ which totally dominated the box office a year ago, or ‘M3GAN,’ which made that a bigger weekend,” said Dergarabedian. “But it’s a bit early to call it in terms of how the year is going to turn out.”

Warner Bros. and Universal placed third and fourth on the charts as well. Warner Bros.’ DC superhero movie “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” earned $10.6 million in its third weekend, bumping its domestic tally just over the $100 million mark. Universal’s animated “Migration” added $10.3 million, bringing its running domestic total to $77.8 million.

Sony’s Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney romantic comedy “Anyone But You” landed in fifth place with $9.5 million, up 9% from last weekend. The movie has grossed $43.7 million to date.

Cineplexes are full of awards contenders, including “The Color Purple,” “The Iron Claw” and “Poor Things,” and the Golden Globes broadcast Sunday night might help spread awareness for those and other films.

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