Weekend Box Office Forecast: SUPER MARIO BROS. Chases More Animation History in 2nd Frame as RENFIELD, THE POPE’S EXORCIST, and SUZUME Debut

Photo Credits: Universal / Illumination / Nintendo ("The Super Mario Bros. Movie"); Universal ("Renfield")

After delivering a historic Easter weekend debut, The Super Mario Bros. Movie will begin stretching its legs as the marquee animated movie in theaters — and perhaps claim more records.

Mario exited its stellar $146.4 million three-day ($204.6 million five-day) bow with another strong hold on Monday, $20.1 million, thanks to residual holiday effects with some schools being out the day after Easter (as well as staggered spring break windows around the country).

Tuesday landed at an $15.5 million, which signals the hit franchise-starter is on course for a likely floor of $75 million to $80 million during its coming sophomore frame. That’s on the conservative side of expectations as models indicate $85 million or more is achievable.

That being said, there are no true apples-to-apples comparisons for this type of film during this time of year.

For reference, the top second weekends by animated releases throughout all of box office history belong to Frozen II ($86 million), Incredibles 2 ($80.4 million), The Lion King (2019) ($76.6 million), Finding Dory ($73 million), and Shrek 2 ($72.2 million).

Frozen II‘s leading benchmark also represents the ninth sophomore frame gross by any film in history, not far behind Beauty and the Beast (2017)‘s $90.4 million and Top Gun: Maverick ($90 million).

With no competition in sight, strong audience reception, and retention of premium screens, Mario has an excellent shot to join that top five and potentially come out on top of it.

Illumination’s own second weekend record currently belongs to The Secret Life of Pets ($50.8 million), which will easily be surpassed by the plumber brothers and friends.

On the opener front, three wide releases will try to stand out as counter-programmers to the Mario event.

Likely to lead the pack will be Universal’s Renfield, led by Nicholas Hoult and Nicolas Cage, in a play to attract horror comedy fans.

Renfield is tracking strongest among men over the age of 25, while reviews are hovering close to 70 percent from 43 Rotten Tomatoes critics as of this writing. Social media traction isn’t on par with recent genre breakouts like Cocaine Bear or M3GAN as buzz has stalled in recent weeks, driving pre-sale trends more in line with the likes of Violent Night and last year’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

Previews for Renfield begin with early access screenings at 7pm Wednesday in select locations, followed by broader previews at 5pm Thursday.

The studio expects a weekend debut in the high single-digit million range.

Sony aims for the adult demographic this weekend with The Pope’s Exorcist hoping to court Russell Crowe and/or religious horror fans.

The studio is expecting a debut around $10 million, although independent models are more bearish. Social trendlines and pre-sales have both pointed to a more conservative debut in recent weeks with comparisons falling behind the pace of films like The Menu, Prey for the Devil, and The Invitation.

Reviews are mixed with a 61 percent score from 23 submissions so far.

Pope’s Exorcist begins previews at 4pm Thursday in around 2,600 theaters.

Sony will also handle Crunchyroll’s domestic import of Suzume this weekend, hoping to cash in on the anime medium’s recent explosion in popularity.

Multiple titles, many of them from Crunchyroll, have provided a supply of over-performers and support for theaters when they most needed it during the post-pandemic era.

Suzume is already an international hit from four countries with over $138 million, the bulk of which is Japan’s $104.7 million earnings. Reviews are very strong with a 94 percent score from 31 critics.

Domestic previews begin at 4pm Thursday at 1,925 locations. Sony expects around $5 million for the weekend.

Meanwhile, a trio of other films from indie distributors could be worth watching on the outskirts of the top ten: Bleecker Street’s Mafia Mamma, Soli Deo Gloria Releasing’s Nefarious, and Briarcliff Entertainment’s Sweetwater.

Last but not least, A24 will unfurl Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid in platform style at 5 locations in Los Angeles and New York this weekend. It’s planned to expand further on April 21.

Weekend Ranges (Updated Wednesday Morning)

The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Second Weekend Range: $80 – 95 million

The Pope’s Exorcist
Opening Weekend Range: $4 – 8 million

Opening Weekend Range: $8 – 13 million

Opening Weekend Range: $3 – 7 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for a 26 to 35 percent decrease from last weekend’s $200.9 million top ten aggregate.

Film Studio 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, April 16 Fri Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
The Super Mario Bros. Movie Universal Pictures $86,600,000 $348,400,000 ~4,343 -41%
Renfield Universal Pictures $11,000,000 $11,000,000 ~3,300 NEW
Air Amazon Studios $9,400,000 $35,500,000 ~3,507 -35%
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Paramount Pictures $9,300,000 $76,600,000 ~3,400 -33%
John Wick: Chapter 4 Lionsgate $9,200,000 $161,700,000 ~3,200 -36%
The Pope’s Exorcist Sony Pictures / Screen Gems $5,600,000 $5,600,000 ~3,100 NEW
Suzume Crunchyroll / Sony $4,200,000 $4,200,000 ~2,150 NEW
Scream VI Paramount Pictures $2,000,000 $107,400,000 ~1,400 -41%
Creed III MGM $1,800,000 $156,200,000 ~1,300 -35%
His Only Son Angel Studios $1,300,000 $13,300,000 ~1,200 -54%

All forecasts are subject to revision/finalization before the first confirmation of opening previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are either studio estimates OR unofficial projections if preceded by “~”.

The above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Universal / Illumination / Nintendo ("The Super Mario Bros. Movie"); Universal ("Renfield")
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