US Box Office Report: 28/04/23 – 30/04/23

Here lie the corpses of Mario’s many victims, and Other Box Office News.

Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to morn the loss of a half-dozen films this past fortnight who gave their lives in a valiant but ultimately failing effort to combat the unceasing march of The Super Mario Bros. Movie.  Illumination Entertainment’s aggressively mediocre translation of the video game series refuses to rescind its grip on the top of the chart, yet to drop more than 37% between weekends almost a full month on from initial release.  In the fortnight since I last presided over the Thunderdome that is the US Box Office, Mario’s list of victims/sacrifices has grown ever larger and it’s going to take the invocation of the great Marvel beast to finally halt its rampage.  The thing’s only just opened in Japan yet has already cruised past the $1 billion worldwide mark with plenty of gas evidently still left in the tank.  Today, though, let us pay tribute to those movies it butchered beyond all recognition, regardless of the fact that none of them were playing for the same target audience as Mario.

Firstly, last week which I wasn’t here for (blame Paramore).  The second Guy Ritchie film in two months and the second Guy Ritchie flop in two months, Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant – which, yes, is the official title – failed to inspire enough rah-rah patriotism in red-blooded American moviegoers to go along with *checks notes* the best reviews of his career(?!) and struggled in third-place with just $6.3 million.  Admittedly, that is double what Operation Fortune managed a month earlier, but this week it ended up dropping to $3.6 million in ninth, behind the sixth weekend of John Wick: Chapter 4.  Next on the executioner’s list, as foretold, the bitterly-polarising Beau is Afraid from Ari Aster.  After making a killing in its initial Limited preview, A24 sent the ultimate mommy-issues flick sorta-Wide (just under 1,000 theatres) and saw normie audiences do the Grandpa Simpson gif in droves; ninth with $2.6 mil and it sank out the chart this weekend despite expanding further to over double the screens.  Then came, Chevalier, the classical musician biopic that was the toast of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and completely unsurprisingly died an absolute death in 1,275 theatres; missing out on the Top 10 and scoring just $1.5 mil.

Photo by Christopher Raphael – © 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Now we move onto the fresher corpses churned through the meat grinder, in an analogy which is falling apart at the seams the more I go back to it.  Seven years on from the near-perfect yet sorely-underseen The Edge of Seventeen, Kelly Fremon Craig has finally followed it up with an adaptation of Judy Blum’s iconic novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.  And it would seem that she’s now two-for-two in crafting near-perfect teen movies that go criminally underseen, since all the acclaim in the world, both critical and public, couldn’t get more than $6.8 million worth of people into cinemas.  Good enough for third-place, like Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant before it, but that’s only cos it’s a No Man’s Land out there for non-Mario movies.  At least Craig can take solace in being a Wide release film which managed to make the chart, though, a luxury which cannot be said by *deep breath* Big George Foreman: The Miraculous True Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World.  Yes, that is the actual obnoxious title of the boxing biopic whose $3 million from 3,054 screens was only good enough for eleventh-place.  And then there’s Nidia Manzoor’s buzzy action-comedy Polite Society, plastered everywhere in the UK but presumably playing to deafening silence in the US based on its awful $800,000 from 927 theatre opening (a PTA of $862).

We commend these brave souls to eternity.  As they entered this world, so too must they exit.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…  All except for Evil Dead Rise, that is!  Yes, we do have one Final Girl who managed to stand toe-to-toe with the beast and live to tell the tale.  Warner Bros.’ recent strategy of sending movies originally intended to be HBO Max exclusives to cinemas was yet to score a real bullseye until the latest resurrection of Sam Raimi’s cult-classic splatter-horror franchise, and folks they’ve scored a hell of a bullseye with this one.  Last week, its debut of $24.5 million was both the only non-Mario film to post an eight-figure take and a mere $1.2 million below what the 2013 remake scored in its opening weekend.  That’s already a win, but when you look at the sophomore take of $12.2 million, just a 50%(-ish don’t @ me) drop and a significantly better hold than the 63% plummet Evil Dead 2013 underwent in its sophomore weekend?  Hail to the king, baby!  Which, yes, makes Mario the Supreme God Emperor Tyrant.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Requiescat in pace, my children.  Add their names to the memorial wall next to the Full List.

US Box Office Results: Friday 28th April 2023 – Sunday 30th April 2023

1] The Super Mario Bros. Movie

$40,000,000 / $490,015,825

An uber-naïve part of me wishes to hope that Mario effortlessly crossing the billion-mark means Illumination and Nintendo will take some real goddamn chances with the inevitable though still-unannounced sequels and spin-offs.  Or even just do literally anything more than dangle shiny recognisable keys in front of audiences with active contempt for those who want even the faintest hint of substance or passion or excitement in their films.  The much-larger part of me who has sat through every one of Illumination’s creatively-bankrupt sequels, however, knows better and is resigned to further disappointment.

2] Evil Dead Rise

$12,200,000 / $44,416,000

Please welcome to the STT crew, if you’re yet to, Rob Jones!  He’s made quite the splash in the last fortnight by staking his claim as our go-to Evil Dead guy!  Not only is there the review of Rise for you to check out, he’s also marked the 40th anniversary of the original video-nasty itself from back before Evil Dead dropped the The.  Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker was right, it is cleaner!

3] Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

$6,800,000 / NEW

This opens in the UK on the same day as Fast X and Beau is Afraid.  On the one hand, that undoubtedly means it is going to get fucking mullered by the competition, just like Edge of Seventeen did.  On the other hand, I’m going to get one hell of a cinema day indulging all three facets of my personality.  The populist enthusiast who likes fast cars going vroom, the queer teen-girl who remains upset they missed the opportunity to openly be so during their adolescence, and the perpetually anxious wreck of a human being with mommy issues!  Something for all of me!

4] John Wick: Chapter 4

$5,000,000 / $176,155,296

On the subject of all-action rampages, Amy Walker chose to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon last week despite my express request for her to stop doing tenth anniversary pieces on video games I have played I AM STILL YOUNG DAMMIT I AM NEVER GOING TO TURN 30 AND YOU CANNOT MAKE ME!!

5] Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

$4,694,000 / $313,841,064

Oh, yeah.  I chose not to mention that Disney put Return of the Jedi back in theatres for one week to mark its fortieth anniversary, with a PTA of $9,882 from 475 screens, because it didn’t fit with my whole death pool intro conceit.  But, yeah, more people chose to see Star Wars again than a George Foreman biopic Dave Bond couldn’t muster up much enthusiasm for.  Definitely says something.

Also, obviously we have an anniversary piece of our own in the works for the end of May when the proper date rolls around.  C’mon, y’all know us.

6] Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

$4,099,613 / $88,160,000

In the meantime, Amy Walker really enjoyed the third season of Mandalorian, deal with it.

7] AIR

$3,980,000 / $47,606,438

Still not seen at the time of writing this BOR, but will hopefully have seen by the time it gets posted!  My cinema crams last week were focussed on the small films that weren’t sticking around, so had to keep AIR in the chamber a little longer.  One of my friends said it’s their favourite film of the year so far though, for what that’s worth to those still on the fence.

8] Ponniyin Selvan: Part Two

$3,813,000 / NEW

In other Throwback news, Leslie Byron Pitt took the honours of writing up Michael Bay’s masterpiece, the mean-spirited satirical crime comedy Pain & Gain which, yes, I truly believe is one of the best films of the 2010s.

9] Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

$3,615,081 / $12,294,044

Sounds like, as with Operation Fortune, this one is also going straight-to-Amazon here in the UK at some unspecified point in the future.  It’d be nice to see a Guy Ritchie film on an actual cinema screen again.  *the live-action Disney Hercules starts to raise its hand*  YOU SIT YOUR ASS BACK DOWN, YOU!

10] Sisu

$3,250,000 / NEW

OK, I also forgot to mention this acclaimed Finnish-language historical action film in the opening spiel because it significantly overperformed initial expectations to break into the Top 10 despite playing in 1,000 theatres.  Look, sometimes, on the BOR beat, you have to elide a few pesky facts in order to make your narrative work because it’s 11PM on a Sunday night and you just want to go to bed.  Lay off.

Dropped out: The Pope’s Exorcist, Renfield, Beau is Afraid, Suzume

Callie Petch dropped out, college education’s a dull knife.


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