“Wahoo!” The Super Mario Bros. Movie smashed its box office projections this past weekend and debuted with the highest opening ever for an animated film. Despite mixed reviews, how did this happen?
The Super Mario Bros. Movie grossed $377 million globally over the five-day holiday weekend — beating out the record previously set by Disney's Frozen II over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2019. Over the three-day standard weekend, Super Mario Bros. grossed $146,360,000 domestically in 4,343 theaters — beating out Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and John Wick: Chapter 4. Over the course of the five-day weekend, Super Mario Bros. grossed $204,628,865 domestically. Overseas, the film raked in another $173 million — second to only Frozen II in that regard.
But how did this happen? As it stands, the film holds a 57% score from critics based on 207 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (to be fair, the audience score is much higher at 96%), so clearly critics — including yours truly — were not fully on board with this film. Clearly, word-of-mouth from audiences was stronger than that of critics. The film received an “A” score on CinemaScore (based on surveys of moviegoers). Was the success of Super Mario Bros. due to the lack of animated features since Puss in Booths: The Last Wish? Perhaps, but the bigger story seems to be that the film proved to be a four-quadrant blockbuster — meaning it appealed to all demographics (male, female, young, and old) whether they played the games or not.
The holiday weekend was also a major factor given that kids were home from school and families were likely looking for any outlet. Super Mario Bros. was also the only real mainstream family fare widely available in theaters at this moment that could truly appeal to all audiences.
Shoutout to Air, which didn't shatter any records but also beat out projections with its $14,468,000 three-day total and $20,214,826 five-day haul. The Nike drama was given a boost by its $3.2 million opening day debut (not including preview screenings) and is a sliver of hope for fans of non-franchise cinema.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is in theaters now.