Mamma mia! “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is staying on top at the domestic box office.
The Universal release added a commanding $22.6 million on Friday from 4,371 theaters. After achieving the biggest opening weekend of the year, “Mario Bros.” actually added 28 more locations in its sophomore outing.
The Universal, Illumination and Nintendo co-production is now projecting an $80 million gross for the three-day frame, which would mark an impressive 45% drop from its $146 million opening weekend. A major release that opens above $100 million hardly ever slips less than at least 50% in its second outing. In comparison to other recent family fare, “Mario Bros.” is putting up a stronger hold than “Minions: The Rise of Gru (-56.9%) and “Strange World” (-58.2%).
The sustained draw for the animated adventure shows that the film is going beyond charming family audiences, who have been deprived of a major release targeted at them since “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” hit theaters in December. “Mario Bros.” is appealing to a wide audience, with strong word-of-mouth among ticket buyers powering up its box office fortunes. The Nintendo adaptation is in the mix to land the second-biggest sophomore weekend ever for an animated release, projected neck-and-neck with “Incredibles 2” ($80.3 million) and behind the record holder “Frozen 2” ($85.9 million).
“Super Mario Bros.” crossed the $500 million mark globally on Friday. The film has blown past “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” ($474 million) to become the highest-grossing release of 2023, not to mention the biggest video game adaptation in history. And with such a slim drop in its second weekend, the animated adventure is showing no sign of stopping in its box office odyssey.
Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” features the voices of Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy and Jack Black as the iconic Nintendo characters. The film carries a production budget of $100 million. The film didn’t land well with most reviewers, with 41% of top critics approving on aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, but Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman hailed it as “a digital fairy tale that connects.”
Those “Mario Bros.” numbers should ease the woes of Universal, which is also opening “Renfield” this weekend to some inauspicious figures. The monster comedy, which stars Nicolas Cage as Dracula and Nicholas Hoult as his loyal servant, earned $3.1 million from 3,375 theaters on Friday. The film is projecting a $7.5 million opening gross — not the result one would hope for an action-packed genre film carrying a $65 million production budget. “Renfield” didn’t enthuse the first round of ticket buyers, as indicated by its “B-” grade through research firm Cinema Score. Critics were unmoved too, with a 40% from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The vampire screwball is having trouble keeping up with the more grave new horror release “The Pope’s Exorcist,” which stars Russell Crowe as the Catholic Church’s most trusted fixer. The Screen Gems production earned $3.46 million on Friday from 3,178 locations. Sony’s religious thriller is compelling audiences to an $8.6 million opening weekend, good for No. 2 on domestic charts. Compared to “Renfield,” the film carries a more modest $18 million production budget.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” looks to slot in at No. 4, projecting a $7.3 million gross in its fourth weekend of release. The Thunder Road Films and 87eleven Entertainment co-production should push its domestic haul to $159 million through Sunday, slowly but surely inching to surpass the $171 million figure earned by its predecessor.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “Air” is falling to fifth, projecting a 49% drop from its $14 million three-day opening last weekend. In and of itself, that’s a solid hold for the Ben Affleck-directed sports industry drama, affirming its crowdpleaser appeal. But the Amazon Studios production carries a production budget of $90 million, plus additional millions for marketing and promotion. The streamer will look to find most of the value in “Air” through its play on Prime Video.
Also opening this weekend, “Suzume” is projecting a $4.7 million gross from 2,170 locations. Released under Sony’s anime banner Crunchyroll, the Japanese film is benefitting from some boosted ticket prices from a handful of Imax auditoriums and other premium formats. “Mafia Mamma,” a Toni Collette-starring crime comedy from Bleecker Street, is hustling to a $2.3 million debut from 2,002 theaters. There’s also the sports drama “Sweetwater,” which is projected to draw a paltry $308,000 from 1,204 theaters.
On the limited release side, “Beau Is Afraid” is hitting four screens in New York and Los Angeles ahead of expansions in the coming weeks. The dark comedy epic, which marks A24’s most expensive production to date, is benefitting from premium ticket prices for Imax auditoriums, as well as fanbase loyalty for director Ari Aster and a WTF factor that has spawned a wide range of vocal reactions among the first round of moviegoers.
All of that is a recipe for a strong limited showing for “Beau Is Afraid,” which could notch one of the highest per-theater-averages since the beginning of the pandemic. Current projections have it notched to compete with record holder “Licorice Pizza” ($86,289 PTA) and “The Whale” ($60,000 PTA).