SATURDAY PM: There was a thought for a moment by distribution sources that Super Mario Bros Movie would be front-loaded — during its opening weekend, and in its second weekend. Boy, was that theory wrong. The Illumination/Universal/Nintendo feature take of the hit 1980s videogame is posting the best second weekend ever for an animated movie at the domestic box office with $87M, repping a great -41% hold off of a huge Easter weekend. That figure defeats the previous second weekend record for an animated movie held by Disney’s Frozen II ($85.9M). More high scores for the Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic directed movie: Super Mario Bros. jumped 75% between its second Friday of $22.6M and Saturday of $39.5M. Total running cume by EOD Sunday is $347.8M. While we’ve heard that Warner Bros.’ Evil Dead Rise, another horror film next weekend, is expected to do $15M-$20M+ after its pivot from HBO Max to theatrical (which would be a fantastic result), it’s clear that Super Mario Bros is going to continue to be the big King Koopa of the box office.
Despite the five wide releases this weekend, everyone just wanted to see Super Mario Bros either for the first time, or again as the competition did single digits (check out the chart below).
Among the weekend’s most prolific wide entries, Sony/Screen Gems’ Russell Crowe movie The Pope’s Exorcist looks to notch No. 2 with $8.5M while Universal’s Nicolas Cage vampire movie Renfield will settle in third place with $7.7M. Although the supply of movies is good for exhibition, the reality is that we’re not in a market where Super Mario Bros has raised the water level for all boats, rather the Nintendo movie reps 62% of the weekend’s entire est. $140M box office. Both Pope and Renfield had a mixed reaction on social per RelishMix ahead of the weekend. Let’s face it, they’re niche horror movies, and the going factor for Evil Dead Rise next weekend is that it’s from the beloved Sam Raimi franchise. Remember, Fede Alvarez’s remake of Evil Dead was embraced by horror fans, opening to $25.7M back in 2013 (and finaling at $54.2M and just over $97M off a $17M production cost).
In regards to the response to Pope, RelishMix says moviegoers were questioning “the accuracy of the film, while others are excited about Russell Crow’s presence in the film. Others consider the movie to be a spin-off of the classic 1973 horror film The Exorcist, starring Linda Blair. Moreover, some viewers find the horror concept to be overdone, deeming the film as ‘another exorcist.’”
Total annual box office for 2023 for Jan. 1-April 16 is clocking $2.5 billion, +44% over the same period last year.
Here’s how the top 10 looks; still a close call for No. 3:
1) Super Mario Bros Movie (Ill/Uni) 4,371 (+28) theaters, Fri $22.6M Sat $39.5M Sun $24.9M 3-day $87M (-41%), Total $347.8M/Wk 2
2.) Pope’s Exorcist (Sony)3,178 Fri $3.465M Sat $3.1M Sun $1.9M 3-day $8.5M/Wk 1
3.) Renfield (Uni) 3,375 theaters Fri $3.1M Sat $2.75M Sun $1.85M 3-day $7.7M/Wk 1
4.) John Wick: Chapter 4 (LG) 3,033 (-574) theaters, Fri $2.1M, Sat $3.5M Sun $2.08M 3-day $7.67 (-47%), Total $159.8M/Wk 4
5.) Air (Amazon) 3,507 theaters,Fri $2.15M Sat $3.3M Sun $2.15M 3-day $7.6M, Total $33.1M/Wk 2
6.) Dungeons & Dragons (Par/eOne) 3,324 (-532) theaters, Fri $1.94M, Sat $3.3M Sun $2.1M 3-day $7.4M (-47%), Total $74.1M/Wk 3
7.) Suzume (Sony)2,170 theaters Fri $2.15M Sat $1.6M Sun $1.1M 3-day $4.8M/Wk 1
8.) Mamma Mafia (BST)2,002 theaters Fri $860K Sat $900K Sun $540K 3-day $2.3M/ Wk 1
9.) Scream VI (Par) 1,288 theaters (-998), Fri $430K Sat $640K Sun $350K 3-day $1.42M (-59%), Total $106.7M/Wk 6
10.) Nefarious (Soli Deo Gloria) 933 theaters Fri $495K Sat $475K Sun $290K 3-day $1.26M/Wk 1
SATURDAY AM: Illumination/Universal’s Super Mario Bros Movie just refuses to stop mushrooming. We saw yesterday that it was going to be the best second weekend for Illumination, and it still is at $80M. However, it could become the second-best weekend ever for an animated movie after Frozen II‘s $85.9M. Currently, Incredibles II is the second-best second weekend for a feature toon at $80.3M.
With fresh genre counterprogramming in the mix in Universal’s Renfield and Sony/Screen Gems’ The Pope’s Exorcist, as well as three other titles, the total domestic box office market is looking at a weekend of $133.3M, +20% over the same second weekend in April during pre-pandemic 2019. Behold, normalcy, finally at the box office — and it’s not even summer. This weekend is also 24% ahead of the same weekend a year ago, which was Easter led by Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
Pope’s Exorcist is edging out Renfield, $8.65M to $7.55M, and respectively in slots two and three. It use to be that horror movies were spaced apart on the release calendar, ideally three months apart. But that wasn’t possible for studios to do as the pandemic post-production logjam loosened and a slew of high-profile films finally hit the schedule.
Universal’s release of Renfield promptly in the wake of Super Mario Bros stems from that pic being strictly tailored for a specific audience, in this case those over 25 (77%). Sony then dated on top of Renfield. Despite one film being an R-rated horror comedy and the other a straight-up R-rated horror title, is there a cannibalization of audience going on? Uh, yeah: both titles’ leading demos are men over 25 (Renfield 43%, Pope at 40%) and women over 25 (Renfield at 33%, Pope at 29%).
The Nicolas Cage movie Renfield is the more expensive of the two at $65M before P&A, while Pope was priced at $18M. Pope is clearly bound to be the more profitable of the two. However, Universal, in its 17-day theatrical window, spilling to PVOD, spilling to Peacock/Prime Video pay one windows, has been able to pull some rabbits out of their hat when it comes to getting movies in the black.
Post-pandemic, when an animated movie like Super Mario Bros hits PVOD and remains in theaters (in this case, given its $50M+ opening last weekend, the title will have a 31-day window to PVOD), neither eats into the other, with the studio reaping big bucks. Just look at Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
Both movies Pope and Renfield have similar exits, respectively at 86% positive and 79% positive on Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak. Both had solid turnouts by Latino and Hispanic moviegoers. However, the demo was the leading one for Pope at 39% to Renfield‘s 27%. Other diversity demos for Pope were 33% Caucasian, 9% Black, and 19% Asian/other, while Renfield saw 45% Caucasian, 11% Black, and 17% Asian/other. Pope played the best in the South Central and West, where all top ten theatres were either in California or Texas. The Cinemark Downey was the top-grossing theater, with close to $9k. Renfield played evenly across the U.S., with AMC Burbank earning the top gross at $15K; there was also solid play among the Alamos.
Amazon/Artists Equity/Mandalay/Skydance Sports’ second weekend of Air is looking to land in 5th place at 3,507 theaters. That’s after a second Friday of $2.1M, -57%, and 3-day of $7.3M, -49%, for a running total of $32.8M. By comparison to the first 12 days of Ticket to Paradise, another feel-good adult hit from the fall, Air is pacing 9% behind that film’s running total at that point in time. Ticket to Paradise finaled at $68.2M domestic. John Wick: Chapter 4 is also over around $7.3M in its fourth weekend, either in fourth or fifth place. $159.4M for the Keanu Reeves Lionsgate movie by Sunday.
Sony’s release of Crunchyroll’s Suzume looks to land in 7th with $2.1M on Friday, and $5M at 2,170 theaters. Anime fans, those not en masse, did like it at 89% on PostTrak and a 72% recommend, with the audience make up being 60% guys, 40% women, and 40% between 18-34 and 25-34 showing up at 42%. Diversity demos were 31% Caucasian, 25% Latino and Hispanic, 8% Black, and 36% Asian/other. Strong grosses in the East and West, juiced by Imax and PLF, with five of the top ten theaters coming from California.
Bleecker Street’s Mafia Mamma at 2,002, which stars Toni Collette as an American mother who inherits her grandfather’s mafia empire in Italy and defies expectations with the guidance of the firm’s consigliere, is in 8th with an estimated $2.3M. Grosses weren’t strong, nor were exits at 64% on PostTrak, with a 44% recommend. Those few who bought tickets were women at 68%, with the 55+ crowd showing up at 25%, 25-44 at 43%. Diversity demos were 54% Caucasian, 31% Latino and Hispanic, 6% Black, & 9% Asian/Other.
Another indie horror film, Nefarious, from Soli Deo Gloria Releasing and starring Sean Patrick Flanery and from filmmakers Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, is cracking into 10th place with $1.25M, after a near $500K Friday at 933 locations. B+ CinemaScore and low PostTrak exits of 69%, 61% recommend. Guys showed up at 56%, with 51% under 45.
Logline: On the day of his scheduled execution, a convicted serial killer gets a psychiatric evaluation, during which he claims he is a demon, and further claims that before their time is over, the psychiatrist will commit three murders of his own. While some distribution sources aren’t wowed by the tickets sales here, a commendable debut for a frosh distributor out of nowhere.
Briarcliff Entertainment’s Sweetwater at 1,204 theaters is seeing $328K for the weekend after a $120K Friday. Grosses were bad across the board. Rotten Tomatoes critics really didn’t like it at 18%, neither did audiences with 62% and a 46% recommend on PostTrak.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Illumination is looking at another record 3-day as the Universal/Nintendo co-production Super Mario Bros Movie is on its way to a $72M Friday-Sunday, the best second weekend for the animation studio. That’s a 51% ease at 4,371 theaters after a $20M second Friday, -64%. Running total by end of Sunday will be $332.8M.
Previous best second weekend for Illumination belonged to Minions which did $49.2M, -57%.
Second place looks like it’s going to Amazon/Artists Equity/Skydance Sports/Mandalay’s Air which is eyeing a second Friday of $2.4M, -52% — a great hold off the holiday weekend, and 3-day of $8M+, -44%, and running total of $33.5M at 3,507 locations.
Third is currently a dead heat between Universal’s Renfield and Screen Gems’ Pope’s Exorcist, both north of $3M for Friday and just under $8M.
Fifth goes to the fourth weekend of Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 at 3,033 theaters with a $2M Friday, -58%, and 3-day of $7M, -52%, with running cume by Sunday of $159.1M.
FRIDAY AM: Five wide releases hit theaters this weekend, but Illumination and Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie will reign supreme with a second weekend, -60% at $58M. The plumbers already have plunged a running stateside total through nine days of $260M, with $300M+ in sight this weekend.
Super Mario Bros grossed $9.4M Thursday at 4,343 locations, -13% from Wednesday’s $10.7M. (Watch the trailer here.)
Two genre films aimed at dudes over 25 are battling it out, one funnier than the other, in the faceoff between Universal’s Nicolas Cage vampire comedy Renfield and Sony/Screen Gems’ The Pope’s Exorcist, starring Russell Crowe.
Renfield did $900K in previews Thursday night to Pope’s Exorcist‘s $850K. Both were projecting $8M-$10M, but Renfield looks to be at the top of that range. At 62% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with critics (82% with moviegoers), the pic is booked at 3,300 theaters, while Pope’s Exorcist is at 3,100 sites, saddled at 48% Rotten (but 86% with audiences).
Renfield follows Dracula’s loyal servant, with Nicholas Hoult in the title role. He’s forced to procure his master Dracula’s (Cage) prey and do his every bidding, no matter how debased. But now, after centuries of servitude, Renfield is ready to see if there’s a life outside the shadow of The Prince of Darkness. If only he can figure out how to end his co-dependency. The film clearly is aimed at those who loved the 1980s cult monster comedy Transylvania 6-5000. Chris McKay directs. (Watch the trailer here.)
Julius Avery directs Crowe as Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s leading exorcist, in Pope’s Exorcist, as he investigates the possession of a child and uncovers a conspiracy the Vatican has tried to keep secret.
Sony is handling Crunchyroll’s Makoto Shinkai movie Suzume, booked at 2,150 theaters, plus Imax and PLF theaters. Thursday night at 2,650 sites, the whimsical original anime feature made $680K at 1,925 theaters (starting at 4 p.m.), for what will be a $5M opening weekend.
Bleecker Street has the Toni Collette-Monica Bellucci comedy Mafia Mamma at 2,002 theaters with an eye at a 3-day in the single digits.
Briarcliff Entertainment has Sweetwater in 1,204 theaters. The pic, directed by Martin Guigui, stars Richard Dreyfuss, Eric Roberts, Cary Elwes and Everett Osborne and follows the story of Hall of Famer, Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton, who made history as the first African American to sign an NBA contract, forever changing how the game of basketball is played.