The Super Mario Bros. Movie drowns in 1-UPs, AIR does the deal, How to Show Up a Joyland, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
On Memorial Day weekend 1993, right as Mario’s first golden age was coming to an end, Buena Vista Pictures released the (at the time) big budget live action Super Mario Bros. movie to a critical drubbing and an infamous bombing at the box office. Look at the chart for that weekend, it couldn’t even reach half the gross of a mid-level Stallone vehicle and got whipped by a derided Whoopi Goldberg comedy! Well, 30 years, and a change of medium, makes a world of difference. This Easter weekend, the second attempt at making a Super Mario Bros. movie has gone down significantly better. Maybe not so much with critics, but most certainly with audiences. After just five days, you are already looking at the third-biggest movie of 2023 as Illumination’s latest pulled in an ungodly $204 million over the holiday period. If Universal hadn’t jumped the gun and opened on the Wednesday, there may have been a very real possibility of Mario dethroning Batman v Superman from the record of Biggest Easter Weekend ($166 million), but I’m sure a $146 mil three-day, with spectacular day-to-day holds, will be consolation enough to the studio. Oh, it’s also obviously the biggest opening for a video game movie ever, more than doubling Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s from this time last year; cos Ninten-do what Se-can’t.
But Mario was not the only big 90s comeback story in town over this special weekend dedicated to the eating of egg-shaped chocolates and absolutely nothing else! After the original 1995 docudrama on his return to basketball Space Jam, it’s time to once again bring the true-life story of Michael Jordan… ‘s sneaker endorsement deal to the big screen as Ben Affleck directs AIR. And despite that premise sounding and looking like a CollegeHumor skit, it’s managed to put up a real good fight in the face of much bigger films and is one of the more successful adult dramas we’ve seen around here of late. Also opening on Wednesday, AIR managed to pull in $20.2 million over the five-day and is in a $180,000 three-way battle for second with a good chance of leapfrogging the bellyflop sophomore weekend of Dungeons & Dragons into third when Actuals come in. If you want an idea of how hard it is for adult dramas right now, consider the case of Paint, IFC Films’ not-Bob Ross please don’t sue dark-comedy starring Owen Wilson as DEFINITLEY NOT-BOB ROSS WE PROMISE. Either cos it’s allegedly rubbish, or cos I don’t think they even started marketing it until a week ago, or cos some funny third reason, Paint couldn’t cross $750,000.
In the realm of Limited Releases, things are blooming much brighter for that kind of flick with three big success stories. Leading the charge (pun very much intended) was NEON’s agitprop environmentalism thriller How to Blow Up a Pipeline which converted $120,479 worth of people on 12 screens to the cause of making big oil suck a fat one; a PTA of $10,039. Next up on the line was the long-awaited return of Kelly Reichardt to the A24 fold with the artist dramedy Showing Up which, in spite of A24 going silent on the film for a year following its Cannes debut (for some reason), did reliably strong Reichardt business; $66,932 from 4 screens, a PTA of $16,733. But winning out on all of them was Saim Sadiq’s high-acclaimed Pakistani family drama Joyland with a PTA of $21,142… from 1 screen, admittedly, but the averages don’t lie! That’s where the real winners and losers can be found! Relatedly, Mario scored a $33,700 PTA from 4,343 screens, God help us all.
It’s-a me, Full List! Wa-hoo!
US Box Office Results: Friday 7th April 2023 – Sunday 9th April 2023
1] The Super Mario Bros. Movie
$146,360,000 / $204,628,865 / NEW
As my review likely has shown, my patience with Illumination is officially spent.
$14,600,000 / $147,066,799
You can bet your arse that Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves are being hounded relentlessly by Lionsgate execs like rival assassins after John Wick, begging them both to come back and do a fifth entry.
3] Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
$14,500,000 / $62,277,540
And here’s why, though perhaps obscured by my commitment to the terrible bit last week, I took great pains to mention that the sophomore weekend would be the true test of whether D&D was a success or not. A 61% drop, because the Venn diagram of Mario and D&D’s respective audiences had a much greater overlap on one side than Paramount execs realised, from a $30 mil opening is not behaviour typical of successful movies.
$14,468,000 / $20,214,826 / NEW
Not seen this one yet, but will get to it in due course. Despite my snark up top, I do think I’ll enjoy the thing since it slots into a lineage of movies about competent people doing deals and working out business snags which my Aspie brain gets little tingles of joy from. Plus, Live by Night was nearly seven years ago and remains Ben Affleck’s only black mark as a director so far. I’ve heard worse pitches!
5] Scream VI
$3,315,000 / $103,846,400
Jesus, the cavernous gap between the films fighting for podium placement and the rest of the chart. One of those weeks, I guess.
6] His Only Son
$3,250,000 / $11,044,046
If God asked r/indieheads to sacrifice Black Country, New Road in order to prove their devotion to Him, how many do you think would turn into heathens without hesitation? I’m betting “100% of the userbase.” Add Joel Thornton to that list, too, cos he absolutely adored their recently-released Live at Bush Hall.
7] Creed III
$2,816,000 / $153,272,770
Yes, I know that last link was atrocious and made no sense. I’ve been trying to make tenuous article plugs in BORs almost week-in-week-out for a decade; they won’t all be winners!
8] Shazam! Fury of the Gods
$1,600,000 / $56,603,000
David Sandberg would have a much more sympathetic and favourable public image if he would just log his bitterly insecure ass the fuck off. This advice also applies to anybody with an online presence.
$750,000 / NEW
My friend Ciara got to be a Bungalowhead on the Dick & Dom in da Bungalow live tour last week, a literal childhood dream of mine, then won the damn thing. I am so happy for her and the many giant fist-shaped jealousy-holes adorning my bedroom wall are totally unrelated.
10] A Thousand and One
$600,000 / $2,960,150
Releasing in the UK next week, and nationwide surprisingly. Does this mean we’re finally turning a corner when it comes to Black-centric movies getting decent UK release plans? One can only hope!
Dropped out: 65, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, The Journey: A Music Special from Andrea Bocelli
Callie Petch will dress to the nines, show up on time.