Talk about next-level business.
Illumination and Universal’s Nintendo video game adaptation The Super Mario Bros. Movie shattered all expectations and broke numerous records in its box office debut over the long Easter holiday weekend. The pic scored the top opening of all time for an animated film with $377 million in worldwide ticket sales. The massive five-day domestic haul is $204.6 million, including $146.4 million for the three-day weekend, while the overseas tally stands at $173 million from 70 markets. Mario shattered numerous other records, including landing the top opening ever for a movie based on a video game.
The secret sauce — the PG pic is appealing to both families and general audiences, reflecting the appeal of the wildly popular, multi-generational game. On the general audience side, a whopping 60 percent of ticket buyers were between the ages of 18-34.
The mega-opening wasn’t the only significant note of Easter weekend. Amazon Studios, which is testing giving its movies a traditional theatrical release, saw its debut title, Ben Affleck’s adult drama Air, open to a better-than-expected $20.2 million for the five days (more on Air later). Both films opened Wednesday in order to get a jump on the spring holidays.
In North America, Super Mario Bros.‘ three-day weekend makes it the second-best start ever for an animated title behind Incredibles 2 after passing up Finding Dory. And globally, it bested the $358 million launch of Frozen II.
The records don’t end there. It landed biggest five-day launch in history after besting Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($200 million); is the best-ever opening for Chris Meledandri’s Illumuniation, home of Despicable Me and Minions; and the top opening of 2023 to date.
Crowds turning out for the comedic adventure romp about Brooklyn brothers and plumbers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) as they are transported to the magical Mushroom Kingdom world and quickly separated didn’t seem to care about so-so reviews. Instead, they bestowed the film with an A CinemaScore from audiences.
“This is one of the biggest box office over-performances in recent memory and is absolutely shattering all pre-release projections,” says Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Mario officially says ‘game over’ to the video game movie adaptation curse.”
Until now, the only other big success story among video game adaptations has been Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog series. In terms of openings, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 was the previous opening crownholder with a $72 million debut.
Paramount and eOne haven’t had such good luck with tabletop game adaptation Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, despite glowing reviews and an A CinemaScore. In its second outing, the movie fell 61 percent over the three-day Easter weekend to $14.5 million for a domestic cume of $62.2 million. Overseas, it earned $15.5 million from 61 markets for a tepid worldwide total of $124.1 million.
Ben Affleck’s Air grossed just under $14.5 million for the three-day weekend and $20.2 million for the five-days, ahead of expectations considering that adult-skewing titles have struggled in the pandemic era.
The biographical drama about the early game-changing days of Nike stars when it was trying to sign a young Michael Jordan features a star-studded cast that includes Matt Damon and Viola Davis.
Air is historic in that it is the first movie from Amazon Studios to receive an exclusive theatrical release in thousands of theaters around the world before streaming on Prime Video at a yet-to-be announced date. The film boasts glowing reviews and a coveted Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score of 94 percent. And it received an A CinemaScore from audiences.
The movie, costing $90 million to produce before marketing, is backed Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures. It’s also the inaugural project from Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity, which the duo co-founded last year with RedBird Capital, and is the first time Affleck has directed Damon in one of his movies.
Air is also opening in numerous markets overseas, where Warner Bros. International is handling distribution duties. The movie opened to $10.5 million from its first 59 markets for a global start of $30.7 million.
Among holdovers, Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 also enjoyed a milestone weekend as it crossed the $300 million mark globally. Domestically, it grossed an estimated $14.6 million for a North American cume of $147.1 million and $304.6 million globally.
Paramount and Spyglass also boasted a milestone as Scream VI hit $103.8 million in North America, a franchise record, not adjusted for inflation. Globally, the film has now earned a huge $261.6 million.
MGM’s Creed III, which hit premium VOD last week, cleared the $150 million mark in North America to finish Sunday with a domestic cume of $153.3 million and an impressive $268 worldwide.
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