April 10, 2023

‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Box Office: All the Records Smashed on Opening Weekend

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It’s-a blockbuster! “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” an animated adventure based on the classic video game, crushed the competition with its jaw-dropping $204.6 million domestic and $377 million global debut over the long Easter weekend.

Those results far exceeded expectations and even surpassed the starts of recent installments in Universal’s biggest franchises, like “Jurassic World Dominion” ($145 million domestically) and “Fast and Furious 9” ($70 million). So, expect a sequel to be announced faster than you can say “Let’s-a go!”

“The box office just kept growing and growing,” marvels Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “It’s a tremendous worldwide debut, and the movie has a clear runway.”

The PG film, which cost Universal, Illumination and Nintendo roughly $100 million to bring to the big screen, thrived as the de facto choice among family crowds, who have been starved of compelling theatrical offerings since last December’s release, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.”

But the kid-friendly film also managed to expand its reach beyond parents with young ones. Thanks to a heaping dose of nostalgia and positive word-of-mouth (reviews… not so much), “Mario” turned into a four-quadrant blockbuster — resonating with males and females, young and old, who grew up with Mario, Luigi and other inhabitants of the fantastical Mushroom Kingdom.

“The film is based on incredible IP, which is beloved by people of different generations,” says Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, president of distribution for Universal Pictures International. 

Just because “Mario” is adapted from one of the most popular video games doesn’t mean the film was preordained for blockbuster status. In fact, 1993’s disastrous live-action “Super Mario Bros,” starring Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi, has become a legendary example of Hollywood’s failure to properly translate video game stories from consoles to cinemas.

Even though critics were mixed on the new adaptation, featuring the voices of Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach and Jack Black as Bowser, opening weekend audiences were enthusiastic and awarded the film an “A” CinemaScore. Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” follows Mario and Luigi, Brooklyn-based plumbers, who get sucked into the mystical Mushroom Kingdom and help to stop the villainous Koopa King from world domination.

Will “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” become the first movie of the year to hit $1 billion at the global box office? Many analysts believe it’ll cross the coveted milestone with ease. Until the working-class plumbers achieve ultimate box office glory, here are all the records that were super-smashed in the film’s opening weekend.

Domestic:

  • Highest-grossing debut of 2023, surpassing “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” at $106.1 million
  • Biggest five-day (Wednesday-Sunday) opening of all-time, overtaking 2009’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” at $200 million. (Note: This stat is specifically for movies that opened on a Wednesday. It’s nowhere near the biggest opening weekends in general, which belong to “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Infinity War” and their $250 million-plus starts over three days)
  • Highest-grossing debut for Illumination, beating 2015’s “Minions” and its three-day opening weekend of $115.7 million
  • Second-biggest debut ever for an animated movie, outpacing 2016’s “Finding Dory” and its three-day opening weekend of $135.1 million and following “Incredibles 2” and its three-day debut of $183 million
  • Highest-grossing debut for a video game adaptation, outranking 2022’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” at $72.1 million

International:

  • Biggest opening of 2023, ahead of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” at $117.1 million
  • Second-biggest animated opening of all-time, behind “Frozen 2” at $228.2 million
  • Biggest Illumination opening of all-time
  • Biggest video game opening of all-time

Global:

  • Biggest opening of 2023, bringing down “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” at $225.3 million
  • Highest Illumination opening of all-time, passing 2013’s “Despicable Me 2” at $208 million
  • Biggest video game opening of all-time, eclipsing 2016’s “Warcraft” at $210 million
  • Highest animated opening weekend ever for Imax with $21.6 million

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