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A flurry of new movies will hit North American cinemas this weekend in what marks one of the most varied and crowded lineups since the pandemic struck.
None, however, have a chance of toppling holdover The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The Nintendo video game adaptation should earn at least $55 million to $60 million domestically in its sophomore outing after debuting to an astounding $206.4 million over the long Easter holiday, including $146.6 million for the three-day weekend. That put its global launch at $375.6 million.
From Illumination and Universal, the animated sensation smashed numerous records in its launch. And there’s more to come.
Ben Affleck’s Air is another holdover to watch. The adult-skewing movie, which kicks off Amazon’s foray into the traditional theatrical business, opened to a better-than-expected $20.2 million over the Easter holiday and hopes to do $8.5 million or more this weekend.
Among the five new nationwide titles, Universal’s modern-day vampire comedy Renfield and Screen Gem’s supernatural thriller The Pope’s Exorcist could find themselves in a close race for No. 2 with anywhere from $8 million to $10 million (many analysts believe Renfield will prevail).
Renfield stars Nicholas Hoult in the titular role and Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula. The story follows Renfield as he tries to see if there’s another life for him after serving for centuries as Dracula’s loyal aide. Directed by Chris McKay, the New Orleans-set film stars also Awkwafina.
Directed by Julius Avery, The Pope’s Exorcist stars Russell Crowe, who portrays real-life figure Father Gabriele Amorth, a priest who acted as chief exorcist of the Vatican and who performed more than 100,000 exorcisms in his lifetime. (He passed away in 2016 at the age of 91.)
A wild card is anime maestro Makoto Shinkai’s coming-of-age anime adventure Suzume. A hit in its home territory of Japan late last year, the film is now rolling internationally after playing in competition at the 2023 Berlinale. Anime has been doing big business in U.S. theaters, and some analysts think Suzume could open anywhere from $5 million to $8 million.
Suzume follows a young heroine who accidentally opens a portal that lets in destructive beings from another world who cause earthquakes. She must reverse the damage before Tokyo is destroyed, helped by a children’s chair brought to life that contains the enchanted spirit of a potential boyfriend.
Bleecker Street hopes to pull in females 25 and older with crime boss comedy Mafia Mamma, directed by Twilight helmer Catherine Hardwicke and starring Toni Collette opposite Monica Bellucci. Collette plays an American marketing executive who travels to Italy for her grandfather’s funeral only to learn that she’s just become a crime boss.
Mafia Mamma is tracking to open to under $5 million.
The fifth new nationwide offering is the independent sports biographical film Sweetwater, distributed by Briarcliff Entertainment. Directed by Martin Guigui, the movie chronicles the early career of basketball and baseball player Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, who was a star player for the Harlem Globetrotters before becoming only the second African American to play in the National Basketball Association when he was recruited by the New York Knicks in 1950.
Cary Elwes, Jeremy Piven, Richard Dreyfuss, Kevin Pollak, Robert Ri’chard, Gary Clark Jr., Kevin Daley, Bobby Portis and Eric Roberts also star in Sweetwater, which is tracking to open in the $1 million to $2 million range.
At the specialty box office, filmmaker Ari Aster’s mind-bending Beau Is Afraid opens in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles before expanding nationwide the following weekend. Joaquin Phoenix stars opposite Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan, Nathan Lane and Parker Posey in what The Hollywood Reporter described in its review as a “pitch-dark existential horror comedy about an emotional wreck on a painfully conflicted journey home.”
Beau Is Afraid is from A24, the same boutique studio that backed recent Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once.
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