Weekend Report (Saturday): The Super Mario Bros. Movie Scoring $195-200M+ 5-Day Domestic Bow, Best-Ever Animated Global Debut at $368M

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

Saturday Update: Universal’s update this morning pegs The Super Mario Bros. Movie at $55 million domestically for Friday, giving it a three-day market tally of $113.3 million.

Universal is still projecting $195 million for the overall five-day domestic bow (Wednesday through Sunday), part of an overall $368 million global debut ($including $173 million internationally) that will mark the biggest debut in history for an animated film, besting Frozen II‘s $358 million in 2019.

While the studio’s domestic Friday projections reported yesterday afternoon ended up a little too bullish at $59 million, likely not accounting for the slow-down in walk-up business late in the evening for a kid-driven pic, the $55 million result still puts the film on the very high end of projections and sets the record for a non-opening Friday (topping Force Awakens) as mentioned below.

The studio is expecting an 8.5 percent decline on Saturday for $50.33 million and a 37 percent dip on Easter Sunday for $31.71 million to reach its estimated $195 million five-day and $137 million three-day weekend.

Again, the full scope of possible projections look a bit more optimistic. Saturday business could easily dip less than expected, if not increase slightly. Sunday likewise could benefit from the short run time and family-friendly content despite holiday festivities and gatherings and enjoy a softer decline than the studio currently foresees.

Independent projections continue to point slightly north of $200 million as a more likely outcome, with potential to approach $210 million if everything fires on all cylinders.

Other notable comparison points and record benchmarks for this historic debut by Mario can be found below.

Globally, Mario is also setting a studio record for Illumination, topping Despicable Me 2‘s $208 million worldwide bow in 2013. It’s also the biggest video game adaptation debut in history, topping Warcraft‘s $210 million in 2016.

For Universal, it’s their fourth best worldwide start ever. That trails only The Fate of the Furious ($543 million), Jurassic World ($525 million), and Furious 7 ($398 million).

Also noteworthy this weekend is Amazon Studios’ Air, which has earned $10.8 million through Friday and is on course for a studio-estimated $18.5 million five-day bow ($12.8 million for the three-day).

Friday Afternoon Update: There’s no stopping Mario, which is living up to and beyond expectations to potentially, maybe likely, become the biggest film of 2023.

Universal updates this afternoon with projections of $59 million for Good Friday, again soaring above expectations. The studio now expects a five-day haul of $195.3 million, including a three-day weekend of $137 million.

Independent projections are higher, though. With Friday’s (very early) estimate, even somewhat conservative models indicate a $200 million five-day is more likely to happen than not. That would translate to around a $144 million three-day weekend.

On the bullish end, a five-day bow around $222 million — inclusive of a $164 million three-day — appears increasingly possible.

For another all-time recap:

  • Mario now looks to be chasing Furious 7 ($147.2 million) for the third-highest April debut ever as far as three-day weekends are concerned. That would only trail Avengers: Infinity War ($257.7 million) and Endgame ($357.1 million).
  • The best-ever Easter three-day frames are Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($166 million) and Furious 7. Mario has a shot at both.
  • The best-ever three-day frames for animation belong to 2019’s Lion King ($191.8 million), Incredibles 2 ($182.7 million), and Finding Dory ($135.1 million). Mario will probably top the latter for a top three position.
  • Friday’s estimated $59 million makes it the highest grossing Friday of any film in history when excluding opening days, besting Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($49.3 million) on its eighth day of release (Christmas Day) in 2015.
  • Mario is punching well above all of Illumination’s prior debuts and will top Minions‘ $115.7 million three-day weekend as the studio’s new record holder.

Friday Morning Update: Universal reports this morning that The Super Mario Bros. Movie added another $26.5 million domestically on Thursday, down just 16 percent from Wednesday’s opening and bringing the two-day market haul to $58.2 million.

Thursday’s hold came in above expectations as the combination of all-audience appeal, spring break, Good Friday, and Easter weekend continue to form a perfect storm for the Illumination and Nintendo blockbuster. Early word of mouth is very positive as well, despite mixed critics’ reception, with a 96 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Although the studio is not updating its own projections until Friday afternoon, with such momentum so far, Mario is set to land on the high end of forecasts — if not even higher — during the coming three-day frame and overall five-day bow.

Conservatively, the film should far exceed $150 million for the five-day with a new low-end target of $165 million, previously the pinpoint for final forecasts. Note that projections are volatile given the uniqueness of this release and no exact comparison points.

With Good Friday in play, everything depends on how much business increases from Thursday. As previously reported, pre-sales for Friday were already trending stronger than Wednesday’s bow and walk-up business should continue to impress.

Updated mid-range projections call for a five-day stretch that could land around $185 million, while more aggressive models are now pushing slightly past the $200 million mark.

In all of box office history, the only animated films to ever achieve that latter feat in five days are The Lion King (2019) with $243.2 million and Incredibles 2 ($233.4 million). The next closest is Finding Dory ($177.8 million), which Mario has a real shot to surpass.

For Universal, their top three five-day performances are Jurassic World ($258.5 million) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($181.1 million), and Furious 7 ($174.5 million).

Globally, the film added another $27.6 million outside North America yesterday as the film expanded into 62 markets. That brings the international total to $62.5 million and worldwide sum to $120.7 million. An additional eight markets open this weekend.

Thursday Report: Universal, Illumination, and Nintendo are off to a big start as The Super Mario Bros. Movie earned $31.7 million at the domestic box office in its opening day Wednesday, and an overall global debut of $66.4 million.

On the North American front, that opening day is in line with models baked into final forecasts earlier this week. $31.7 million represents the 11th highest Wednesday gross in history, ahead of 2007’s Transformers ($29.1 million, its third day) and just behind Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ($32.2 million, its sixth day, landing on Christmas).

For Illumination, and all animated titles, its the second highest Wednesday performance in history as it trailed only Despicable Me 2‘s opening day ($35.0 million) by 9 percent. That sequel opened in the middle of summer 2013.

The studio has significantly increased its expectations now to a $141 million five-day bow, including a projected $92 million three-day upcoming weekend. With that in mind, however, independent projections continue to be more bullish as $150 million-plus over the five-day remains likely. Some models continue pointing to as high as $185 million, as outlined in earlier forecasts.

Also on the domestic side, Amazon Studios’ Air drew $3.272 million for opening day Wednesday. That figure includes $925K from pre-Wednesday Early Access screenings.

On Mario‘s global front, $34.7 million was generated from 44 markets. Leading the charge were Mexico ($5.9 million), UK & Ireland ($4.8 million), China ($4.7 million), Germany ($2.8 million), Spain ($2.2 million), France ($2.0 million), and Italy ($1.4 million).

In Mexico, Mario claimed the biggest opening day ever for an animated film, Universal’s fourth highest of all-time, and the biggest opening day of 2023 so far.

Similarly, it was also the biggest opening day in history for an animated film in Germany, as well as Universal’s all-time best and the second highest opening day of any film since The Rise of Skywalker.

Overall, Mario has claimed the top animated opening day in 11 markets so far. The film will expand to 70 total markets over the coming weekend across more than 20,000 theaters and 70,000 screens.

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