It’s a box office Koopa d’état.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” continues to super smash its opening projections, drawing $55 million from 4,343 theaters on Friday. Released Wednesday, the film has already earned $137 million in domestic ticket sales. Replace every dollar with a coin and that would amount to 1.37 million 1-Up mushrooms. That’s a lot of extra lives.
The Universal and Illumination film is still on track for a $195 million opening in North America over the five-day Easter weekend frame. That’s way ahead of the $150 million projections that were being reported at the start of the week. Even more impressively, “Super Mario Bros.” now looks to leap to a $368 million global debut. That would be the biggest ever opening for an animated film, though that comes with a huge caveat. The current record holder, 2019’s “Frozen II,” earned $358 million over a traditional three-day window.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” features a voice cast that includes Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach and Jack Black as Bowser. Unlike the hit Nintendo video game series that it’s based on, the film hasn’t earned glowing reviews, drawing a 44% rating from top critics on aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman was quite charmed though, calling the film “a serious blast, with a spark of enchantment — that je ne sais quoi fusion of speed and trickery, magic and sophistication, and sheer play that… well, you feel it when you see it.”
“Mario Bros.” seems to be a home run with audiences too. The film notched an “A” grade through research firm Cinema Score, indicating resounding approval from the first round of ticket buyers. The animated adventure has landed well with super fans of the video games as well as family audiences, who have been starved of a wide release targeted at them since the debut of DreamWorks’ “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” over the holidays, more than three months ago.
The Mario Bros. may be dominating domestic charts, but the Boston bros are also charming moviegoers this weekend. Produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon under their Artists Equity banner, “Air” retells the origins of Nike and Michael Jordan’s historic sponsorship deal. Released by Amazon under the newly acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer banner, the film has netted some $10 million since opening Wednesday, projecting an $18 million opening from 3,507 locations over the five-day frame.
Those numbers should mark a solid start for “Air,” a period piece aimed squarely at adult audiences and marketed around its cast of Damon, Affleck, Viola Davis, Chris Tucker and Jason Bateman. Starry dramas have often struggled to find a foothold at the box office in recent years. The film has earned strong notices, bagging an 87% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics and an “A” Cinema Score.
That glowing buzz will be important for “Air” moving forward. The release marks a major effort for Amazon, which plans to invest in distributing theatrical movies to boost its streaming profile. While it seems unlikely that “Air” will fully recoup its $90 million production budget in ticket sales, it might not need to for Amazon to qualify its box office run as a victory. The film was originally commissioned as a streaming exclusive before the company switched gears and plotted a theatrical rollout.
“Air” is dribbling around a pair of March holdovers for the runner-up spot on domestic charts. “John Wick: Chapter 4” added another $4.8 million on Friday, on track for a $13.6 haul over the three-day frame. That’d mark a 52% tumble from the Keanu Reeves action epic’s previous outing. The Lionsgate release looks to push its total domestic gross to $146 million through the Easter holiday.
Meanwhile, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is tracking for $13.6 million over the three-day frame. That would mark a 63% drop from its opening numbers — certainly not a terrible plummet, but likely steeper than Paramount and Entertainment One would’ve hoped for a potential franchise starter carrying a $150 million production budget. The fantasy adventure film looks to push its domestic gross to $61 million through the weekend.
Paramount also looks to take No. 5 on domestic charts with the fifth weekend of “Scream VI,” projecting a $3.3 million gross. The slasher has already pushed past the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, an exceptional result given its $35 million production budget.