The Super Mario Bros. Movie came out and obliterated expectations by pulling in a $146.3 million weekend with a $204.6 million 5-day haul.
Why bury the lead, Illumination, the studio that has seen tremendous success with their animated films like Despicable Me, Minions, The Grinch, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing can now lay claim to the highest grossing animated opening of all time at the global box office as The Super Mario Bros. movie is estimated to take in around $377 million, beating the previous champ, Frozen II’s opening weekend take of $358 million. In North American, mario became the champ for highest opening weekend for a video game based movie as it took in a reported $146.3 million, completely obliterating the previous champ: last year’s sonic the hedgehog 2, which opened with a 3-day take of $72.1 million. It also lays claim to the highest 5-day opening ever (for a film released on a Wednesday) with $204.6 million, beating previous champ Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which had a $200 million Wednesday to Sunday gross. Despite those impressive numbers, the domestic 3-day opening weekend actually ranks third for Easter Weekend, falling behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s $181 million and Furious 7’s $161 million
Those of you who follow the progression of the box office from our Thursday previews to our Saturday updates to our Sunday wrap ups, know that on Thursday this film was projected by the studio to do just $87 million in its first weekend of release with the 5 -day total coming in around $128 million, by Saturday that number grew to $137 million for the 3-day weekend and today it settled in on $146.3 million. Obviously they vastly underestimated the demand for this film, which isn’t a bad thing, better to estimate low and shatter expectations than the other way around. The funny thing is, the movie is actually not a critical darling. Right now it sits at a rotten 56% with critics, including our own Chris Bumbray who gave it a 6/10, yet audiences are loving it, giving it a 96% audience score. That is quite the divide between critic and audience. In his review, Mr. Bumbray said he felt it played less like a movie and more like you were watching a friend play a Mario video game, and whereas I understand that, I think that is what made me like it so much. Despite being a kids movie that is marketed towards a generation that probably never played the original games, the filmmakers added enough references and sound effects that it brought me back to when I had to blow on the cartridge to get the dust out before I popped it into my NES machine. That, and any movie that has Jack Black bust out a gnarly power ballad will always win me over!
Good family content has been pretty scarce these past few months and it looks like The Super Mario Bros. movie will have plenty of room to breathe as the next crop of family films doesn’t come out until late May with The Little Mermaid followed by Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse and elemental a few weeks later (that is unless your idea of family friendly fare includes the R rated Dracula film Renfield gold Evil Dead Rise with its tagline “Come to Mommy”.)
The counter programming option this weekend was the R rated take on how the highest grossing shoe line in history came to be as Ben Affleck’s Air from Amazon Studios also opened way above expectations with a $14.46 million 3-day take and $20.2 million 5-day. That number is pretty impressive for an R rated film that has zero gun play or explosions, and this one should see some sturdy legs in the coming weeks especially since it has garnered phenomenal reviews, such as the 8/10 our own Chris Bumbray gave it , coupled with an astonishing 98% audience score. This is the type of movie people leave the theater and tell their friends to go see. I know that because I am one of those people! This is an absolutely tremendous film that is less about Michael Jordan and more about how Nike was on the verge of fading away into obscurity before one person saw potential where few else did. It is an acting power house with an amazing script and directing on par with a filmmaker of Affleck’s pedigree, how else to describe having a pitch meeting have the same edge of your seat excitement as the ending of Argo?! Quite frankly, it is just that damn good, and anyone reading these words should go check it out in theaters.
As of right now spots 2-4 are only separated by about $134,000 with John Wick: Chapter 4 predicted to be at the top of the pile with an estimated $14.6 million and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves dropping 61% from last week with an estimated $14.5 million while Air brings up the rear with its $14.46 million. It is very possible that when the actual numbers are reported tomorrow, Air moves up to that number 2 spot on the list as a new release film with great word of mouth has a better shot at pulling in audiences. Although don’t count out John Wick as it really is one of the best action movies ever made. Sadly for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, it looks to have had one solid week at the box office before dropping pretty hard. With a reported $150 million budget and just over $100 million worldwide, I’m not quite sure this one will be seen as a success when all is said and done. Time will tell if it launches a franchise or is forgotten in a few months time.
The other new release this week to crack the top ten is the Owen Wilson starring paint which is looking at around $750,000 on just 819 screens resulting in a pretty lackluster $916 per screen average (compare that to Super Mario Bros. $33,700 per screen average.) Not the best numbers, but that is to be expected from a film with a current 48% audience score. Critics are no fans either with our own Alex Maidy giving it a 6/10 in his review.
Rounding out the top ten are your holdovers such as Scream VI with an estimated $3.3 million as it officially crosses the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, followed by the faith based His Only Son with an estimated $3.2 million, of course these two could switch spots as perhaps more people will go see a faith based film such as His Only Son on Easter Sunday than will go see people mercilessly slaughtered by a person (or persons?) in a ghost face mask?! Spots 7 and 8 go to Creed III with an additional $2.8 million while Shazam! Fury of the Gods adds $1.6 million to its disappointing $56.6 million domestic box office run. Spot ten belongs to the Sundance US Grand Jury Prize winner A Thousand and One with $600,000 added to its $2.9 million box office gross.
Were you one of the millions who flocked to theaters this Holiday weekend? If so, let us know what you saw (and what you thought of it) in the comments section and don’t forget to check out our weekly poll where we ask: What is your Favorite Video Game Movie?