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Illumination and Universal’s Nintendo video game adaptation The Super Mario Bros. Movie grossed $55 million at the Friday box office for a five-day domestic debut of $195 million or more, well ahead of expectations.
The mega-opening includes a projected $137 million for the three-day weekend, which would pass up Finding Dory ($135.1 million) to rank as the second-best start of all time for an animated film behind Incredibles 2, not adjusted for inflation. And overseas, Super Mario looks to start off with $173 million for a $368 million start, the top showing ever for an animated title after supplanting Frozen 2 ($358 million).
Super Mario’s bow is already assured of scoring the top opening ever for a video game adaptation; the best start ever for Chris Meledandri’s Illumination, home of Despicable Me and Minions; and the top opening of 2023 to date. It would also be the second-biggest five-day launch in history behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as well as a near-record Easter holiday gross.
On Wednesday, Super Mario started off in North America with a huge $31.7 million and followed that up with $26 million on Thursday.
Super Mario is shaping up to be the first all-audience blockbuster of 2023. Not only is the PG-rated pic whipping up interest among families, it is appealing to the generations of adults who grew up playing (or still play) Nintendo’s wildly popular Mario games. And while critics are mixed on the movie, audiences gave it an A CinemaScore.
The animated comedic adventure story follows Brooklyn plumbers and brothers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) as they are transported to the magical Mushroom Kingdom world and separated. The movie’s voice cast also includes Keegan-Michael Key, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen, Kevin Michael Richardson and Sebastian Maniscalco. Charles Martinet, who has voiced the characters of Mario and Luigi in the Super Mario games for more than three decades, also makes a special voice appearance.
The film is directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic from a screenplay by Matthew Fogel. It is co-financed by Universal, parent company of Meledandri’s Illumination, and Nintendo.
Easter’s other new high-profile offering is Ben Affleck’s Air, which is now looking at a projected five-day launch of $18.5 million, including $12.8 million for the three-day weekend.
The biographical drama about the early game-changing days of Nike when it was trying to sign a young Michael Jordan grossed $2.5 million Thursday for a two-day total of $5.8 million. Based on those numbers, many thought Air might only clear $16 million but the forecast improved notably on a strong Friday, with the movie grossing $5.6 million for the day.
Air is historic in that it is the first movie from Amazon Studios to receive an exclusive theatrical release in thousands of theaters around the world before streaming on Prime Video at a yet-to-be announced date. The film boasts glowing reviews and a coveted Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score of 94 percent. And it received an A CinemaScore from audiences.
The movie — starring Matt Damon and Viola Davis — chronicles Nike’s early game-changing days and is backed by Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures. It’s also the inaugural project from Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity, which the duo co-founded last year with RedBird Capital, and is the first time Affleck has directed Damon in one of his movies.
Air is also opening in numerous markets overseas, where Warner Bros. International is handling distribution duties.
April 7, 12:30 pm PST Updated with revised Air estimates.
April 7, 12:45 pm PST Updated with revised Mario Bros estimates.
April 7, 9 pm PST Updated with revised estimates.
April 8, 7:15 am PST Updated with revised estimates.
This story was originally published on April 7 at 8:15 am.
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