Image Credit: Paramount via AP)

On a quiet weekend in movie theaters, “Mean Girls” repeated atop the box office with $11.7 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday, while a handful of awards contenders sought to make an impact ahead of Oscar nominations Tuesday.

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With a dearth of new releases in cinemas, Paramount Pictures’ Tina Fey-scripted musical “Mean Girls” pushed its two-week total past $50 million, along with $16.2 million internationally. So far, it’s outpacing the tally for the 2004 original “Mean Girls.”

Only one new film debuted in wide release: “I.S.S.,” a modestly budgeted sci-fi thriller starring Ariana DeBose. The film, which speculates what would happen aboard the International Space Station if war broke out between the U.S. and Russia, debuted with $3 million on 2,518 screens for Bleecker Street.

Expectations weren’t high for “I.S.S.,” which drew only so-so reviews and was lightly marketed. Audiences also didn’t like it, giving the film a “C-” CinemaScore.

But even for January, historically a low ebb for moviegoing, it was a sparsely attended weekend, with paltry options on the big screen. The top 10 films collectively accounted for just $51.3 million in box office, according to Comscore.

With a similarly thin release schedule on deck for next weekend, it could be the start of a chastening trend for Hollywood in 2024. Due to production delays caused by last year’s strikes , there are significant holes throughout this year’s movie calendar.

The Jason Statham thriller “The Beekeeper,” from Amazon MGM Studios, remained in second place, grossing $8.5 million in its second weekend to bring its total to $31.1 million. Warner Bros. “Wonka,” six weeks into its smash run in theaters, was third, with $6.4 million in ticket sales. It’s taken in $187.2 million domestically.

A still from 'Mean Girls'

Also continuing to leg out was Sony Pictures’ “Anyone But You.” The rom-com starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, crossed $100 million globally in its fifth week of release. It’s the highest grossing R-rated romantic comedy — a genre that has largely migrated to streaming platforms — since 2016’s “Bridget Jones’s Baby.” Domestically, it came in fourth with $5.4 million.

Much of the weekend’s action was in expanding awards contenders.

After a qualifying release in December, Ava DuVernay’s “Origin,” starring Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as the “Caste” author Isabel Wilkerson, launched in 125 theaters and pulled in $875,000 — a strong start for the acclaimed film.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark fantasy “Poor Things,” starring Emma Stone, added 820 theaters and grossed $2 million from 1,400 locations. The Searchlight Pictures release, which won the Golden Globe for best comedy-musical, has earned $33.7 million globally in seven weeks of slowly expanding release.

Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction,” starring Jeffrey Wright as a frustrated novelist, expanded to 850 screens and pulled in $1.8 million. “American Fiction,” up to $8 million in six weeks, will look for a boost in Tuesday’s Oscar nominations.

Jonathan Glazer’s Auschwitz film “The Zone of Interest” expanded to 82 screens, grossing $447,684 for A24.

But after a strong launch, another awards contender, “The Color Purple,” has quickly fallen off the radar of moviegoers. Though widely acclaimed and with the backing of producers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, the Warner Bros. musical has dropped fast in recent weeks. In its fourth week of release, the Blitz Bazawule-directed film starring Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson and Danielle Brooks, grossed just $720,000. Its domestic total is $59.3 million, below hopes for the $100-million budgeted film.