Wahoo indeed! Mario and his pals racked up $146 million in the opening weekend and over $200 million in its first five days of release. It barreled past Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania‘s opening weekend ($106 million) to become the largest domestic weekend of 2023 thus far. It is also the second-highest debut for an animated title and the highest-grossing for Illumination. It beat out Detective Pikachu to become the highest opening film based on a video game. Positive word-of-mouth (not counting critics), nostalgia for the iconic game series, and a welcome for the entire family ensured Mario would win.
The feature also earned $173 million overseas, totaling $377 million worldwide. IMAX also touted substantial numbers, with $21.6 million globally. All these high numbers seemingly confirm that Universal, not Disney, is the undisputed leader of theatrical animation in post-COVID times. And no “video game curse” here, folks; people wanted to see Mario because he and his brother Luigi are ones folks grew up with in gaming ever since 1985. Putting him on the big screen against favorites in Bowser and Donkey Kong with a star-strudded cast made it all the more appealing. Yes, Chris Pratt’s voice for Mario was quite unctuous, but if people still showed up, they can’t blame another Chris in Hollywood. With numbers like this, we should expect some solid legs for the remainder of the month until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives in May. As a bonus, Universal will indubitably take advantage of several spin-offs and sequels with Mario. Maybe Hollywood does have something temporary as it tries to pull away from “relying on superheroes every other quarter.”
The other major release this weekend, Air, landed with $14.46 million, a solid result for an R-rated sports drama battling a noteworthy IP and several sequels still legging out. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon should collaborate more on these types of motion pictures; it works incredibly well for their arsenals. Amazon also recently announced they’d distribute several films a year theatrically, which is a boon for theaters that are still (almost) past the pandemic days. Will it break even? Most likely not, but it’ll do well on VOD/subscription services when the time comes.
John Wick: Chapter 4 added $14.6 million in its third weekend, putting its domestic total at $147 million and it passed $300 million globally. It’ll pass its predecessor’s $328 million global gross to become the most significant earner of the franchise. The spin-off series can’t arrive soon enough. Dungeons & Dragons took a massive hit by 61% in its second weekend due to competing with another game brand; sometimes, you can’t win with all offered on the table. Rolling the dice may only work in favor of one. And Scream 6 hit $100 million domestically, marking 26 years since Scream 2 got past that benchmark ever-so-slightly with $101 million.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods keeps busting like someone got too much salt added to their spaghetti; the sequel is limping past $55 million domestically in its fourth weekend, a far cry from its predecessor four years ago and another sign that DC did not care about this one when trying to reboot themselves again. With the film already on VOD, Zachary Levi may be heading out, especially if Dwayne Johnson still lingers with some control over the Black Adam/Shazam situation. In any case, the superhero sequel is a box-office bomb.
Next weekend sees the release of Renfield and The Pope’s Exorcist.