Box Office Breakdown: “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” jumps to year-high $146 million opening 

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is at the top of the charts with the largest opening weekend of 2023 so far. Wisnefsky discusses the top 5 films in this week’s Box Office Breakdown. Illustration by Zaire Diaz/The Daily Campus

Sorry “Ant-Man and the Wasp” there’s a new hero in town.  

With the largest opening weekend of 2023 thus far, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” shattered expectations, with an incredible $146.3 million opening. This smashed my prediction of $97 million, clearing it by almost $50 million. Not only was the video game adaptation the highest opener of 2023 so far, it was one of the largest worldwide openings for an animated film ever, earning $377 million across its 5-day opening weekend. With a reported $100 million production budget, factoring in an estimated $80 million marketing spend, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has a break-even point around $396 million. As of this article’s publication, factoring in “Mario”’s prospective Monday gross, the film has likely already cleared that total. That means every dollar earned from here on out will contribute to its profit. Although it received tepid reviews from critics, it earned an “A” CinemaScore from audiences — a sign that it will have strong legs. I think “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is all but guaranteed now to earn $1 billion globally, on its way to earn Universal and Illumination over $200 million in profit. 

In second place is “John Wick: Chapter 4,” earning $14.6 million in its third weekend of release. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, “Chapter 4” needs to earn around $375 million worldwide to break even. Three weeks in, it has earned just south of $269 million. Does “John Wick: Chapter 4” have $105 million left in the tank? It’s tough to tell. It fell 49% this week, which is a little steeper than it would like. “John Wick” likely isn’t losing audiences to “Mario,” as they’re targeting different demographics, but it may have lost screens to the hit film this week. Ultimately, I think “John Wick: Chapter 4” will end just shy of that number, but with strong critical and audience reception, there’s no reason to worry for the fan-favorite action franchise. 

In third is “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” which earned $14.5 million in its second weekend. This is one of the sadder aspects of the box office, whenever there’s a hit film, usually there’s a film out there getting squashed. “D&D” and “Mario” were competing for family audiences and although “Dungeons and Dragons” had incredible critical reception on its side, “Mario” was just too big of a juggernaut. The action fantasy comedy film fell 61% in its second weekend, a steep drop for a film that just earned an “A-” CinemaScore. With an $150 million production budget, the film is all but guaranteed to finish in the red. The blame is all on Paramount for this one, they should’ve released it at a less competitive point in the calendar. I think “Dungeons and Dragons” would’ve done quite well if it was released mid-to-late January. But as always, hindsight is 20/20. 

In fourth and fifth place are “Air” and “Scream VI” which earned $14.5 million and $3.3 million respectively. “Air” grossed over $20 million since its opening day on Wednesday, exceeding my opening weekend expectation of $17 million. With a reported $70-80 million budget, this film likely will not profit. But what was originally supposed to be a direct to streaming release, Amazon and Artists Equity will probably take anything they get from the box office. “Scream VI” cleared $100 million domestically this week, becoming the first “Scream” franchise film to do so since “Scream 2” in 1997. 

Next week brings the release of the comedy horror film helmed by Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult — “Renfield.” The film surrounds the titular servant of the famed vampire Dracula as well as Dracula himself, played by Hoult and Cage respectively. I expect it to open to $27 million this weekend. 

Will “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” power up to $300 million next weekend or will “Renfield” take a bite out of its gross? 

As always, we shall see. 

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