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‘Argylle’ tops box office, but fails to pack any sock

A man and a woman examine a microchip
Sam Rockwell and Bryce Dallas Howard in the movie “Argylle.”
(Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures)
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The spy thriller “Argylle” topped the domestic box office on its opening weekend, but some Hollywood insiders said it performed poorly based on its reported budget.

The film, produced by Apple Original Films and distributed by Universal, ranked No. 1 and brought in $18 million over the weekend, according to Comscore estimates. “This is a weak opening for a new action comedy that was written to be the first in a trilogy of films,” wrote David Gross in movie franchise industry newsletter FranchiseRe. “At an estimated cost of $200 m[illion], as the start of a series, the weekend opening is below average.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Director Matthew Vaughn, the throw-anything-against-the-wall stylist of the “Kingsman” movies, shepherds a manic spy thriller that’s far too fidgety to enjoy.

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“Argylle,” which stars actors Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell and Henry Cavill, was panned by critics, receiving a 35% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It generated a higher 70% audience score on the movie review aggregator site.

The results come as movie theaters are struggling to bring in audiences in 2024. The domestic box office year to date is down 13% in revenue, compared to last year, in part due to movie slates reshuffled amid last summer’s dual Hollywood strikes, said Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore senior media analyst.

“No way to sugarcoat it,” he said. “This is a tough go so far this year.”

The growth of streaming services during the pandemic has also given consumers alternative ways to watch new and original films.

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Trailing “Argylle” at the domestic box office this weekend was the faith-based streaming series “The Chosen,” which brought the first three episodes of its fourth season to theaters for an estimated $6 million , according to Comscore. In third place was action movie “The Beekeeper,” which debuted on Jan. 12 and generated about $5.3 million, the research firm said. The Jason Statham-starring film has grossed $49.4 domestically in its first four weeks.

Of the year’s top releases, ‘Barbie,’ ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie,’ ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘Sound of Freedom’ and ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ weren’t sequels, remakes or franchise extensions.

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Dergarabedian said he’s hopeful that marquee titles such as “Dune: Part 2” coming out in March will help bring in more audiences to movie theaters.

“Once we get there, I think we’ll start really building momentum as we head into the summer, because there’s really a lot of great movies on the release calendar for 2024,” he said.

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