‘Super Mario’ movie hops to a huge N. American opening

It’s only April, but Universal’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” racked up such huge numbers in its North American opening weekend that analysts say it could top the list for all of 2023.

The animated film, a joint effort of Universal, Nintendo and Illumination studios, sold an estimated $146.4 million in tickets over the Easter weekend, and $204.6 million in its first five days, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said Sunday, adding, it “will easily be the #1 flick of 2023.”

“The numbers are sensational,” agreed analyst David A. Gross. He said the results were the best ever for a first episode animation, largely due to the film’s broad appeal, drawing both families and young and old viewers, both male and female.

With its foundation in one of the most popular video games of all time, “It’s a marketer’s dream,” Gross added.

In second place for the weekend — with one-tenth the ticket sales of “Super Mario” — was Lionsgate’s neo-noir “John Wick: Chapter 4,” at $14.6 million.

The thriller has been praised for its action choreography, largely the work of director and former stunt man Chad Stahelski. Keanu Reeves stars as the titular hitman who finds himself fighting an international crime group.

Third spot went to last weekend’s leader, Paramount and eOne’s “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” at $14.5 million. Based on the popular role-playing game, it stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Hugh Grant.

Amazon Studios’ new release “Air,” on the origin of Nike’s Air Jordan basketball shoe line, placed fourth, at $14.46 million, which Gross called “an excellent opening for a sports drama.”

He attributed that to the film’s “elite cast” — Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker and Viola Davis — as well as “outstanding” reviews and the worldwide familiarity of the Nike brand.

And in fifth was horror flick “Scream VI,” from Paramount and Spyglass Media, at $3.3 million.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“His Only Son” ($3.3 million)

“Creed III” ($2.8 million)

“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” ($1.6 million)

“Paint” ($750,000)

“A Thousand and One” ($600,000)

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