- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
Expect the box office to be in full bloom this weekend.
Illumination and Universal’s Nintendo video game adaptation The Super Mario Bros. Movie has every chance of becoming the first blockbuster of 2023, if tracking is any indication. Not only is the PG pic whipping up interest among families, it is appealing to the generations of adults who grew up playing Nintendo’s wildly popular Mario games (or those who still play).
The movie opens Wednesday in order to take advantage of spring holidays and is looking at a five-day debut of $125 million or more in North America, and well north of $200 million worldwide. And many are already predicting a robust run, versusit being front-loaded.
In mid-February, Marvel and Disney’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania debuted to $120.4 million over the four-day Presidents’ Day weekend, but fell off steeply. To date, the movie’s worldwide gross is a disappointing $472.9 million, including $212 million domestically.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie will open in more than 4,000 cinemas in North America and across 60 markets overseas. 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 is co-financed by Universal, parent company of Chris Meledandri’s Illumination, and Nintendo.
Universal’s marketing campaign has been unrelenting since the first trailer dropped at New York Comic Con in October, followed by another trailer appearing in front of Avatar: The Way of Water. There have also been a number of digital initiatives generating millions of hits, while the film’s three trailers have been viewed upward of 750 million times, according to the studio. Spots for the film have appeared during virtually all major sporting events, including the Super Bowl and March Madness basketball games.
Another film advertised on the Super Bowl was filmmaker Ben Affleck’s Air, which opens Wednesday as well. The biographical sports marketing drama — 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.
Air is historic in that it is the first movie from Amazon Studios to receive an exclusive theatrical release around the world before streaming on Prime Video at a yet-to-be announced date. It is also the first time Affleck has directed his longtime friend Damon. The film boasts glowing reviews and a coveted Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score of 99 percent.
Adult dramas were hurt badly by the COVID-19 crisis, and have yet to make a full recovery at the box office. One major tracking service suggests Air will score a five-day debut in the $18 million range, although more conservative pundits suggest $16 million or $17 million. The film cost $70 million to $80 million to produce (that doesn’t include marketing or the overall price Amazon paid for the high-profile project, which was originally set to go straight to Prime).
Overseas, where Warner Bros. International is handling distribution duties per its deal with Amazon, Air opens in 59 markets this weekend.
Buzz has been building since Affleck took the film to last month’s South by Southwest Film & TV Festival in Austin, Texas. The film’s marketing campaign is led by former Warner Bros. veteran Sue Kroll, who now heads up marketing for Amazon (she is close to Affleck and worked on his Oscar-winning Argo).
In Affleck’s latest directorial outing, Damon portrays former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro, who accomplished the impossible and signed a then-rookie Michael Jordan to a shoe contract in the mid-’80s that would put Nike on the map and launch the global, multibillion-dollar contemporary sneaker industry.
Davis plays Jordan’s mother, while Affleck plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans, Jay Mohr, Julius Tennon and Chris Tucker also star.
Neither Super Mario nor Air will host Tuesday night previews.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day