The new Super Mario Bros Movie has broken box office records, scoring the most successful global opening of all time for an animated film.
The family film – Hollywood’s second version of the hit Nintendo game – took $377m (£303m) around the world in its first five days on release.
That overtook the previous record of $358m (£288m) held by Frozen 2.
“The numbers are sensational,” noted analyst David A Gross, who said it would “easily be the #1 flick of 2023”.
In The Super Mario Bros Movie, the moustachioed Italian plumber is voiced by Chris Pratt, while Jack Black plays fire-breathing villain Bowser.
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It left many critics cold, with the New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski saying it’s “just another soulless ploy to sell us merchandise” and The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw calling it “tedious and flat in all senses”.
He added that it was “a disappointment to match the live-action version in 1993” – a reference to the infamous original adaptation starring Bob Hoskins.
But many fans seem to disagree, with the 56% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes eclipsed by the 96% audience score. Even Elon Musk tweeted that “the critics are so disconnected from reality!”
Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Meledandri and Chris Pratt attend the premiere of Universal Pictures’ “The Super Mario Bros.” at Regal LA Live, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 1, 2023
Anya Taylor-Joy, producer Chris Meledandri (centre) and Chris Pratt attended the film’s premiere earlier this month
Crowds “didn’t seem to care about so-so reviews”, the Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock wrote.
The film broke other records, including the best-ever opening for a movie based on a video game and the top opening of 2023 so far, she said.
Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told the outlet: “This is one of the biggest box office over-performances in recent memory and is absolutely shattering all pre-release projections.”
Post-pandemic box office fears
Variety agreed that the film “crushed already-high expectations”, while Screen Daily said it “pulled off a thunderous bow which shows the theatrical demand for family titles at a time when Hollywood executives are concerned about the depth of supply lines as the world emerges from the pandemic”.
Global box office figures for 2022 were 35% down on pre-Covid levels.
Reflecting on Super Mario’s takings, the New York Times asked: “Are family movies back – all the way back, to the degree that Hollywood can once again count on them as relative sure things?
“Studio executives and movie theatre owners were practically doing cartwheels over the weekend while shouting, ‘Yes!'”