“Mario” No Less Super, “Air” No “Argo”, “Beau Is Afraid” Starts Big

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is by far the most important story, but three platformer movies are showing better-than-usual initial results.

With an impressive second-weekend total of $87 million, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (Universal) proves it could be the top domestic opening in 2023. Illumination Animation’s adaptation of the Nintendo game fell just 41 percent, beating even the most generous estimates for holdings.

Already taking in $348 million in its first 12 days, and its strong hold indicating massive public interest and repeat viewing, “Super Mario Bros.” it looks like they’re expecting at least $600 million in total. That domestic performance would have been surpassed only by the past of “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” — and a level not assumed for many potentially strong upcoming releases, especially the still-strong Marvel titles, but during the past. levels. Worldwide, it is already 678 million dollars.

“Super Mario brothers.” accounted for more than 60 percent of the revenue in one week, which is due to five new films in the top ten. Back to Feast or Famine’s Divide, neither opened to $10 million, nor did any other title. This begs the question of just how healthy things really are, says Super Mario Bros. Do they suggest that the big hits ahead will exceed expectations, or is this an exception?

Meanwhile, three new platform titles showed their initial strength, notably the three-hour long “Beau Is Afraid” (A24). Ari Aster’s latest film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, earned $320,000 in four theaters, the second best opening per theater since 2019. Eco-documentary “Wild Life” (Picturehouse) made a strong debut in two cities, led by New. York, while the Norwegian satire “Cendélét” (Utopia) also showed promise.

Nicholas Cage as Dracula in Renfield



Runner-up “The Pope’s Exorcist” (Sony) led new releases with a modest $9,150,000. At least it’s a lower-budget title ($18 million). “Renfield” (Universal) took $65 million, with the Dracula-themed film starring Nicolas Cage (on the 4th anniversary of his early “Valley Girl”) tied for third among the three titles with just shy of $7.8 million .

Amazon’s “Air” ( MGM ) saw a bigger-than-expected 47 percent drop at under $8 million. That might not seem so bad for a second weekend, but there are several reasons for concern. Adult films that rely on word of mouth — especially when they get off to a good-but-not-great start like “Air” — tend to perform stronger. And the drop comes after a holiday weekend where a Wednesday opening caused some of the initial crowd to go earlier (comparing such weekends is trickier).

Ben Affleck’s similar “Argo,” which opened better in 2012, fell just 15 percent in its second weekend for a gross that would be around $200 million at today’s prices. “Air” looks to be heading for $55-60 million ($33 million so far). That’s fair, and based on Amazon’s future plans (PVOD, Prime), it might be enough to justify their decision to go to theaters. Still, it looks less than pre-Covid potential.

So far, “John Wick: Chapter 4” (Lionsgate) is No. 3 in Week 4 with $160 million so far. Three other new releases were placed lower in the Top Ten. “Suzume” (Sony), Crunchyroll’s latest Japanese anime release, won $5 million for No. 7. “Mafia Mamma” (Bleecker Street) with Monica Belluci and Toni Collette (the latter unexpectedly inheriting the role of the Italian mob boss) was No. 8 with just over $2 million. “Nefarious” (Soli Deo Gloria), an unlikely R-rated faith-based horror film (third of the week), finished at No. 10 with $1,33,000 from 933 theaters.

The weekend total of about $141 million saw positive results in comparative numbers. This increased the advantage achieved in 2023 compared to last year to 37 percent. If that holds for the rest of the year (unlikely, but if “Super Mario Bros.” posts top-notch results for other titles), that would put it at $10.1 million, beating expectations. Then there’s our four-week rolling comparison for pre-Covid 2019 – with ‘Super Mario Bros’. raising the current totals, the period is ahead of it by six percent. The last time it happened was at the end of July last year, after a very strong summer month.

“Beau Is Afraid” showed A24 firing on all cylinders. Take an established director with a strong following after “Hereditary” and “Midsommar,” leaven him with an exciting cast, elevate him with a strong preview program, Q&A sessions, an IMAX play and a smart (if slightly different) four-theater New York -i/ A selection from Los Angeles, along with something unusual and daring, and the result is not a big surprise.

Which isn’t to say it isn’t impressive. “Beau” is reportedly getting a mixed response, and the fact that it’s a three-hour genre film alone has its challenges. It goes wide this Friday (with some IMAX screens starting Tuesday), and you might find it even harder to answer. But so far so great.

Some context — “Beau’s” $320,000 was close to $350,000 for “Sweetwater” (Briarcliff), the first biopic about a black NBA player, to more than 1,200 theaters.

Kris Tompkins looks up at the sky with the Patagonian mountains in the background.  (Jimmy Chin)


Jimmy Chin

“Wild Life,” which documents the lifelong work of two conservationists to preserve South America’s open spaces, was particularly strong at Angelica, New York, bringing in nearly $37,000. His DC run added another $10,000 to the initial impressive response.

Among recent subtitled releases, “Sick of Myself” is tops with $20,012. Add to that the fact that it’s a Norwegian comedy from an unknown director, and it’s off to a very promising start.

The two most important expansions in the second week had mixed results. Kelly Reichardt’s “Showing Up” (A24) climbed to 28 theaters for $129,000 ($4,574 PTA). “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” (Neon) opened wider with 142 theaters and $185,000 ($1,303 PTA).

The Top 10

1. The Super Mario Bros. movie (Universal) Week 2; #1 last weekend

$87,000,000 (-41%) in 4,371 (+28) theaters; PTA (per-theater average): $19,904,000; Total: $347,824,000

2. The Pope’s Exorcist (Sony) NEW – Metacritic: 44; Evening. budget: $18 million

$9,150,000 in 3,178 theaters; PTA: $2,879; Total: $9,150,000

3. John Wick: Chapter 4 (Lionsgate) Week 4; #2 last weekend

$7,925,000 (-45%) in 3,607 (-574) theaters; PTA: $2,201; Total: $160,100,000

4. Renfield (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 54; Evening. budget: $65 million

$7,770,000 in 3,375 theaters; PTA: $2,302; Total: $7,770,000

5. Air (MGM) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$7,721,000 (-47%) at 3,507 (unchanged) theaters; PTA: $2,201; Total: $33,284,000

6. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor among Thieves (Paramount) Week 3; #4 last weekend

$7,350,000 (-47%) in 3,324 (-532) theaters; PTA: $2,211; Total: $74,070,000

7. Suzume (Sony) NEW – Metacritic: 75

$5,000,000 in 2,170 theaters; PTA: $2,304; Total: $5,000,000

8. Mafia Mamma (Bleecker Street) NEW – Metacritic: 43

$2,045,000 in 2,002 theaters; PTA: $1,021; Total: $2,045,000

9. Scream VI (Paramount) Week 5; #4 last weekend

$1,455,000 (-58%) in 1,288 (-998) theaters; PTA: $1,130; Total: $106,793,000

10. Mean (Soli Deo Gloria) NEW

$1,330,000 in 933 theaters; PTA: $1,426; Total: $1,330,000

Other titles

Films (limited, extended, limited release, and award-oriented release) are listed by week of release, starting with those released that week; after the first two weeks, only films grossing more than $5,000 are listed.

Beau is scared (A24) NEW – Metacritic: 69

$320,396 in 4 theaters; PTA: $80,099

Wildlife (Cinema) NEW – Metacritic: 65; The festivals are: South by Southwest 2023

$46,718 in theaters; PTA: $23,359

Sweet water (Briarcliff) NEW

$350,000 in 1,204 theaters; PTA: $291

I’m sick of myself (Utopia) NEW – Metacritic: 72; The festivals are: Cannes 2022

$20,212 at 2 theaters; PTA: $10,106

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Zeitgeist) NEW – Metacritic: 69; The festivals are: Toronto 2022

$7,400 at 2 theaters; PTA: $3,700

It pops up (A24) Week 2

$128,080 in 28 (+24) theaters; PTA: $4,574; Total: $217,591

How to blow up a pipeline (Neon) Week 2

$185,000 in 142 (+130) theaters; PTA: $1,303; Total: $338,475

Joyland (Oscilloscope) Week 2

$8,256 in 1 (unchanged) theaters; PTA: $8,256; Total: $39,171

I am an architect (Abramorama) RE-RELEASE Week 2

$568 at 1 (unchanged) theater; PTA: $568; Total: $12,156

His only Son (Angel) Week 3

$1,037 (-883) in theaters; Total: $

thousand and one (In Focus) Week 3

$85,000 at 130 (-796) theaters; Total: $3,311,000

Champions (In Focus) Week 6; Also on PVOD

$347,000 at 183 (-234) theaters; Total: $16,117,000

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