‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Will Feed April Box Office and Movie-Starved Families

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" could gross as much as $125 million in its five-day Easter weekend, while Amazon has high hopes for "Air."
Super Mario Bros
"The Super Mario Bros. Movie"

Won’t you think of the children? With three months since “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (Universal) opened in theaters, families are movie-starved. That creates a huge opportunity for “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” also Universal, which opens Wednesday just before the lucrative Easter weekend. It comes days after Paramount opened “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” another game-based movie also previously adapted for film.

Dungeons & Dragons” opened to $37.2 million, making it the fifth consecutive release with a domestic debut over $30 million and “Super Mario Bros.” will make it six. Even with a Wednesday opening that siphons off some of its total, industry estimates put its five-day tally conceivably at $125 million. That could translate into over $250 million during the month.

For April, best guess for all films’ domestic take is around $650 million. That’s what we projected for March, with the total falling just short (around $635 million). That made the month the best of 2023 so far.

Even with five strong franchise openers, March reflected a modest improvement of less than eight percent against 2022. At the end of the first quarter, total domestic box office is up 28 percent. If April reaches $650 million, that uptick will go down to 23 percent. If sustained, that would translate to $9.1 billion for the year. That’s close to the estimates for 2023, but there’s no guarantee that will be met if improvement continues to slow.

March provided multiple successes, led by “John Wick: Chapter 4” (Lionsgate), “Creed III” (MGM), and “Scream 2” (Paramount). “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” (Warner Bros. Discovery) was an expensive disappointment, only adding $50 million to the total. (“D&D” played only one day in the month.) Among original releases, “The Jesus Revolution” (Lionsgate) and “65” (Sony) added around $30 million each.

The month was down 30 percent from 2019, when ticket prices were at least 15 percent lower. Don’t blame a lack of releases — there were 10 new wide (1,500+ theaters) last month, compared to 2019’s seven. Top films are both opening at a lower gross and often falling more quickly (“John Wick” dropped 62 percent in its second weekend).


April has four weekends that will see nine wide releases. Joining “Super Mario Bros.” this week, also on Wednesday, is Ben Affleck’s “Air,” Amazon’s first big in-house, wide-release production since it took over MGM. They’re hoping for a response similar to the director’s “Argo” — or “Jerry Maguire,” another sports-world original film. That demands a long run sustained by great reactions. At this point, tracking suggests it might could make as much as $25 million in its first five days with a 3,000+ theater release.

No other April releases are expected to reach $50 million, at least during the month. These include Universal’s horror comedy “Renfield” and Sony’s “The Pope’s Exorcist” (April 14), WBD’s “Evil Dead Rise” and MGM’s “The Covenant” (April 21), “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” from Lionsgate and Sony’s “Big George Foreman” (April 28). Crunchyroll will also have a wide release of “Suzume” on April 14.

Other more limited initial releases include Ari Aster’s “Beau Is Afraid” (A24), which has an initial IMAX release on April before slow expansion, and “Chevalier” (Searchlight). Both open April 21.

“John Wick” and “D&D” will add revenue to April, but to hit $650 million, “Super Mario Bros.” must open very big and stay strong. It has a shot at being #1 for three weekends, but the hope is for more; other openings have much less potential. It could be #1 for three weeks, and not necessarily just because the later openings are weak.

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