The Super Mario Bros. Movie Is Now The Biggest Movie Of The Year At The Box Office

It was a big weekend for new releases at the box office, with "Renfield" and "The Pope's Exorcist" giving the horror crowd a lot to chew on, "Suzame" finally arriving in North America for anime lovers, and "Mafia Mamma" trying (and failing badly) to give us a viable action/comedy. But far and above all of those was "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," which absolutely obliterated the competition in its second weekend. So much so that it now stands alone as the highest-grossing movie of 2023 overall after less than two weeks in theaters.

According to Box Office Mojo, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" earned $92 million in its second weekend, representing a mere 37% week-to-week drop. That was well ahead of industry expectations, proving that this is a true crowd-pleaser on a global scale. Its domestic total now stands at $353 million, to go with nearly $350 million internationally. With over $700 million total, it has overtaken China's "Full River Red" ($673 million) to become 2023's highest-grossing movie worldwide. It is already — far and away – the biggest video game movie ever and is well on its way to $1 billion globally.

Rather remarkably, Universal and Illumination's "Mario" is doing so well despite the fact that it has made less than $12 million in China. As we've seen in the aftermath of the pandemic time and time again, "Avatar: The Way of Water" aside, China can no longer be relied on by Hollywood. It is, at best, a cherry on top if it goes well. In this case, Nintendo's brand is strong enough everywhere else in the world that the lackluster results in China don't matter whatsoever.

Can any other movies top it?

This is, naturally, excellent news for movie theaters as several movies this year — including "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" and "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" — have disappointed relative to expectations. Speaking of the $150 million budgeted "D&D," it fell to number six this weekend with $7.3 million and, at $157 million worldwide after its third weekend, this one is dead in the water. No sequel, no franchise. All the more reason to celebrate what "Mario" is accomplishing. The question now is, can any movie coming down the pipeline for the rest of 2023 top it?

The way I see it, there are only two true competitors coming this summer that have a chance to possibly take the crown. First up is "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" on May 5. Granted, Marvel's box office dominance has been showing signs of waning a bit, particularly with "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" topping out at $474.2 million following its huge opening weekend in February. That said, if critics are on this one's side and it pulls a "Spider-Man: No Way Home" (becoming a massive crowd-pleaser as the finale of a big trilogy), it could easily touch $1 billion. For now though, there are too many question marks to declare that a likely outcome.

Beyond that, we have "Fast X." The "Fast & Furious" franchise has seen wildly high highs over the years, with "Furious 7" taking in $1.51 billion back in 2015. But it's been a little inconsistent over the yers since then and, with "F9" topping out at $726 million in 2021, it's a little hard to tell how his new installment will fare. But if audiences buy into the whole "This is the beginning of the end" marketing angle, Dom and his Fast Family could come for the crown on May 19.

And the rest...

Elsewhere, Sony's "The Pope's Exorcist," starring Russell Crowe, opened a bit above expectations with $9.1 million, taking the number two spot. Unfortunately for Universal, there was some bad news this weekend as their new horror/comedy "Renfield," which stars Nicolas Cage as Dracula, absolutely bombed, taking in just $7.7 million, falling all the way to number four. It could, when the final numbers are tallied, actually place at number five, as Ben Affleck's "Air" was right on its tail with a solid second weekend. "Pope's Exorcist" benefits from the fact that it carries a reasonable $18 million budget, whereas "Renfield" carries a whopping $65 million budget. This to say, it's a huge flop.

Elsewhere, "John Wick: Chapter 4" landed at number three with $7.9 million. It now stands at $349.7 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing "John Wick" movie to date. It should finish its run at a little over $400 million, more than justifying that $100 million budget. Meanwhile, Bleecker Street's "Mafia Mamma," which stars Toni Collette and Monica Bellucci, is dead in the water with a $2 million opening on more than 2,000 screens. Yikes. "Suzame" also struggled a bit, taking in $2.8 million in wide release.

Also worth watching, Ari Aster's "Beau is Afraid" (read our review here) opened to $320,000 in just four theaters, giving A24's latest one of the best arthouse debuts in recent memory. The question is, can this three-hour, bizarre epic catch on with mainstream audiences in the coming weeks? Looking ahead, we've got a big weekend with Guy Ritchie's "The Covenant" and "Evil Dead Rise" entering the fold. Whether or not they can take down Mario and Luigi remains to be seen.

Top 10 movies at the box office April 14 –16, 2023:

1. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" — $92 million

2. "The Pope's Exorcist" — $9.1 million

3. "John Wick: Chapter 4" — $7.9 million

4. "Renfield" — $7.77 million

5. "Air" — $7.72 million

6. "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" — $7.3 million

7. "Suzume" — $2.83 million

8. "Mafia Mamma" — $2.04 million

9. "Scream VI" — $1.45 million

10. "Nefarious" — $1.33 million