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Super Mario Bros Movie Smashes Box Office Records

Super Mario Bros.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie poster/logo. Credit Nintendo / Illumination / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The Super Mario Bros. Movie has broken the record for the most successful global opening of all time for an animated film despite receiving an underwhelming response from critics.

The new movie stars Chris Pratt as the eponymous Mario, Jack Black as Bowser, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, and Charlie Day as Luigi. The movie, which is based on the video game series of the same name, has garnered a $204.6 million domestic and $377 million global debut over the long Easter weekend.

The success of Super Mario Bros. underscores a growing divide between film critics and movie-going audiences. Contrary to the movie’s lackluster reception with critics, it will likely become the biggest movie of 2023.

Super Mario Bros breaks box office records

The movie’s global box office debut of $377 million overtook the previous record set by Frozen 2 of $358 million back in 2019.

“The box office just kept growing and growing,” commented Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “It’s a tremendous worldwide debut, and the movie has a clear runway.”

In fact, Super Mario Bros. has eclipsed the box office debuts of several of Universal’s tentpole franchises, including Jurassic World Dominion at $145 million domestically, and Fast and Furious 9, which made $70 million.

Made on a budget of approximately $100 million, it has drawn in large crowds of families to the cinema. The movie also owes its success to the appeal of its source material. Since the release of Nintendo’s first Super Mario Bros. videogame in 1985, it has been one of gaming’s most recognizable titles. Many older audience members, therefore, joined younger moviegoers for a dose of nostalgia.

“The film is based on incredible IP, which is beloved by people of different generations,” said Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, the president of distribution for Universal Pictures International.

However, the success of Super Mario Bros. was far from assured. Videogame adaptations to the big screen have a long history of flopping and a previous attempt to bring Mario to the cinema was no exception.

1993’s live-action Super Mario Bros. was no exception and bombed upon release. It was also widely panned by critics and dismissed by its leading star, Bob Hoskins, as his “biggest disappointment”.

Critics and audiences divided

The movie’s reception by critics and audiences is miles apart. Currently, the film boasts a 96 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes but only satisfied the tastes of 56 percent of critics.

“It’s emotionally bland and yet garish enough to psychologically sedate the pre-teen Easter audience,” said Times critic Kevin Maher

Critic Wenlei Ma, was similarly disappointed, giving it a score of only 1.5 out of 5. She complained that Super Mario Bros. “is a deranged mishmash of overstimulating elements.”

The divide between critics and moviegoers was noted by Elon Musk who took to Twitter on the side of the film’s fans, saying “Wow, the critics are so disconnected from reality!”

Super Mario Bros. appears to feed further into the growing divide between movie critics and general audiences, with last year being noted as one of the most divisive years ever in cinema history.

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