‘Super Mario Bros’ To Beat ‘Are You There God?’ Debut – Deadline
SUNDAY AM Writethru: After Saturday post Two holdovers, Super Mario Bros Movie and Evil Dead Rise, are continuing to have a gravitational pull on the under-25 set, while frosh wide releases once again this spring are seeing single-digit million results.
Illumination/Nintendo/Universal’s Super Mario Bros at $40M continues to break records, with the best fourth weekend ever for an animated movie, beating Incredibles 2‘s $28.4M. It’s also the best fourth frame for a Universal title, easily beating Jurassic World‘s $29.2M. It’s even ahead of Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s fourth weekend, which did $32.1M. Domestic running cume by today rises to $490M. As Nancy reported yesterday, the pic is crossing $1 billion today, the fifth movie to do so in the pandemic era, and the third-highest grossing Illumination animated title after Minions and Despicable Me 3.
One small exhibitor at CinemaCon shared with me this weekend the great rental terms they opted in for on Super Mario Bros: They could either play the movie on a flat fee of 63% rental terms to Universal throughout the pic’s entire run, or choose a second option, which was 63% on the pic’s first weekend, with a sliding percent scale working in the exhibitor’s favor toward 35% in much latter weekends. They chose option B, and boy, are they happy for it. Similar to Puss in Boots: Last Wish’s run last winter, look for Super Mario Bros to continue to be in the box office top 10 well into June, especially since the next family animated movie, Elemental, doesn’t arrive until Father’s Day weekend.
Now, New Line’s Evil Dead Rise — the young-ins love this movie so much, it’s only easing 50% to $12.2M. (Smile, by the way, had an amazing second weekend hold of -18%. But -45% for a horror movie is also something to brag about). That second weekend decline is better than that of the 2013 Fede Alvarez remake, which was -63%. By EOD Sunday, this latest version of the Sam Raimi franchise will be pacing ahead of the Alvarez edition by 9.8% with $44.4M.
All of this is flying over the heads of Lionsgate’s feature adaptation of Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret ($6.8M) in third, the same studio’s limited release of Finnish genre pic Sisu ($3.25M) in 10th place, and Sony/Affirm’s Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World ($3M) in 11th.
Further answering exhibitors’ demand for product is Disney, with the 40th anniversary reissue of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, which is gravy for the Mouse House at $4.7M in 4th place at 475 theaters and a fantastic $10,3K per screen.
Diving into the numbers this AM, oy, Margaret. Despite excellent reviews at 99%, an A CinemaScore, and great PostTrak of 4 1/2 stars and 88% positive, there’s no urgency for the first big screen take of a Judy Blume novel. Those few who came out and gave the picture great exits were the noisiest on social, but at a low wattage, as the pic only had a social media reach of 66.1M across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, per RelishMix. You can’t say that there’s no place for female- skewing movies based on bestsellers: Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing, in the midst of a very competitive summer, busted through with a $17.2M opening, $90.2M stateside take, and near $75M in profit — and that was off bad reviews! Then there was Lionsgate’s Five Feet Apart (released in 2019), which opened to $13.1M off bad reviews and legged out to just over $45M. But Crawdads was a four-year-old bestseller, and Five Feet Apart just a year old before going theatrical. They weren’t 53-year-old properties like Margaret.
Margaret‘s prime audience are now moviegoers who are slow to make their way to theaters, and even slower post pandemic: over-50 Caucasian women. Some 55% of Margaret‘s audience were over 45, women over 25 numbered 62%, women under 25 were 16%. The 55+ demo was the largest quad, with Caucasians numbering 70%.
The movie was moved off a Sept. 16 release date when there was hardly any product on the calendar, but was then staring in the eyes of New Line’s (then perceived) Harry Styles potential breakout, Don’t Worry Darling. Would Margaret have made more money if it was in the fall? Possibly a tad, but not likely double what we’re seeing here: the overall IP is a feathered fish for today’s female moviegoers.
What Lionsgate wanted here was the opportunity to play into Mother’s Day weekend. The pic is on a healthy 53-day theatrical; perhaps it finds a 5x multiple and grosses its $30M budget. At $5.9M, Margaret‘s opening is slightly ahead of the $4.75M opening for Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen. That smart teen movie written by Craig was also praised by critics at 94% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and liked by the few who say it with an A- CinemaScore, but was no Easy A at the box office because that female teen audience will only come out for movies based off hot books. In 2023, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, based on a 1970 novel, is out of its era.
Many will say this adolescent movie set in 1970s should’ve gone to streaming. After all, where’s the appeal? I say no to streaming: Craig is a talented filmmaker and is a great voice for women. If we keep burying great cinema on streaming, then buried it will remain. It’s like Martin Scorsese said at CinemaCon this past week: If we keep stifling cinema on streaming, how then can we cultivate future filmmakers? “Getting younger people to enjoy the theatrical experience … on a screen that is bigger and more engaging than films they see home will make a difference,” he said.
At least the big screen launch here for Margaret will draw enough attention to find an at-home audience ultimately. Margaret played best in the East, South, and Midwest, with the AMC Century City making around $10K.
So while Lionsgate is struggling to grab female audiences with Margaret, on a whole other level they’re showing some promise in the Sony Stage 6 genre movie, Sisu. This pic is buzzing among Cineastes, with the studio, I hear, even setting up a private screening for movie lover and comedian Patton Oswalt, and sending a print to Quentin Tarantino. At $3.25M at 1,006 theaters and a $3k-plus per theater, it’s a result on par with Beau Is Afraid‘s second weekend ($2.66M), and that’s pretty good for a limited genre audience right now.
For a subtitled foreign genre film, Sisu could ultimately top off at $10M, which would be double that of Luc Besson’s hipster 1990 movie La Femme Nikita ($5M) and about the same amount of money for the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which had a different distribution playbook back in 2009, that of a platform release, and finaled at $10M stateside. Sisu is on an 18-day theatrical window. Lionsgate fought to get this movie at TIFF with a single digit acquisition cost, and they trailered Sisu to the John Wick audience. There was a method to the marketing here.
PostTrak audiences gave Sisu 80% positive with a 60% recommend for the general crowd. Guys showed up at 73%, 52% between 18-34 years old, with the largest quad being 25-34 years old at 33%. Diversity mix was 46% Caucasian, 21% Latino and Hispanic, 11% Black, & 21% Asian/Other. Sisu played strongest in the West with seven of the top ten runs coming from California, and the top gross coming from the AMC Burbank at $14K+.
Despite its A- CinemaScore and 86% positive PostTrak score, no one wanted to see the life story of the famed boxer and grill king, George Foreman, at 3,054 theaters. Audience was largely evenly split between male and female, with 44% over 45, and the 55+ quad at 28%. Diversity mix was 42% Caucasian, 29% Black, 19% Latino and Hispanic, and 10% Asian/other. George Foreman was pretty soft across the nation, but better in the South and South Central.
Busting into the top 10 is the resilient box office genre, the Indian epic, Ponniyan Selvan: Part Two at 600 locations with $3.6M. The Mani Ratnam-directed title follows Arulmozhi Varman, who continues on his journey to become Rajaraja I, the greatest ruler of the historic Chola empire of South India. Big ticket sales in Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, NYC, Dallas, San Diego, DC and Chicago with Cinemark’s LSQ in Seattle minting close to $50K. A $6K theater average is something to savor.
Other mentions: A24’s second weekend expansion of its three-hour Ari Aster hijinks, Beau Is Afraid, at 2,125 theaters (+1,160 theaters) is looking at $1.43M outside in No. 13, -46%, and running total of $5.6M.
Focus Features’ Polite Society, from Nida Manzoor, which made its world premiere at Sundance and earned 91% certified fresh reviews, is looking at $280K Friday, a $310K Saturday heading toward a $800K 3-day at 927 theaters. Alright numbers in Boston, Chicago, NYC, San Francisco, LA and DC, and that’s it.
Overall ticket sales for the weekend are now at an estimated $100.4M, +50% from the same frame a year ago, but 75% off of the last weekend of April 2019, because that’s when Avengers: Endgame led the industry to an all-time record for all pics of $402M.
Updated Sunday chart includes Saturday and Sunday …
1) Super Mario Bros Movie (Ill/Uni) 4,204 (-146) theaters, Fri $8.9M (-37%) Sat $18.2M Sun $12.8M 3-day $40M (-33%), Total $490M/Wk 4
2.) Evil Dead Rise (NL) 3,417 (+15) Fri $3.6M (-65%) Sat $5.2M Sun $3.4M 3-day $12.2M (-50%) Cume $44.4M/Wk 2
3.) Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (LG) 3,343 theaters Fri $2.25M Sat $2.4M Sun $2.1M 3-day $6.8M /Wk 1
4.) John Wick: Chapter 4 (LG) 2,481 (-204) theaters, Fri $1.22M (-21%) Sat $2.1M Sun $1.6M 3-day $5M (-23%), Total $175.65M/Wk 6
5.) Return of the Jedi (Dis) 475 theaters Fri $1.77M Sat $1.7M Sun $1.2M 3-day $4.7M, Lifetime cume $314M/Wk 1 of re-release
6.) Dungeons & Dragons (Par/eOne) 2,709 (-251) theaters, Fri $1M (-29%) Sat $1.86M Sun $1.24M 3-day $4.1M (-25%), Total $88.1M/Wk 5
7.) Air (AMZ) 2,402 (-421) theaters Fri $1M (-32%) Sat $1.8M Sun $1.18M 3-day $4M (-27%), Total $47.6M/Wk 4
8.) Ponniyin Selvan: Part Two (FDN) 600 theaters, Fri $1.78M Sat $1.25M Sun $783K 3-day $3.8M/Wk 1
9.) Guy Ritchie’s Covenant (MGM) 2,631 (+20) Fri $959K (-58%) Sat $1.56M Sun $1.09M 3-day $3.61M (-43%) Total $12.2M/ Wk 2
10.) Sisu (LG) 1,006 theaters Fri $1.4M, Sat $1.1M Sun $761K 3-day $3.25M/Wk 1
11.) Big George Foreman (Sony) 3,054 theaters, Fri $1M, Sat $1.15M Sun $825K 3-day $3M/Wk 1
FRIDAY AM: As The Super Mario Bros Movie barrels toward a box office score that will make it the highest-grossing animated movie ever at the domestic box office, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 waits to pounce, Lionsgate is navigating the pre-summer calendar this weekend with two movies aimed at two different demos: the long-awaited feature take of Judy Blume’s 1970 novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret aimed at women, and their pickup of the Sony Stage 6 Finnish genre title Sisu, aimed at genre dudes.
Are You There God? opened to $600,000 in a combo of Thursday night previews and early access screenings. There’s a chance that the adaptation, produced by James L. Brooks and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, could assail above its expected $7 million-$9 million opening to low double digits as it widens to 3,343 theaters.
Craig’s last movie with Brooks, the teenage, The Edge of Seventeen, did $220K in Thursday previews on its way to a $4.75M opening.
Are You There God? cost an estimated $30M and stars Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Abby Ryder Fortson in the title role, and Benny Safdie. The 1970s-set movie about a young girl’s challenges with adolescence from The Edge of Seventeen filmmakers is currently 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Lionsgate’s Sisu surprised Thursday, taking in $585K. The pic, which is only at 900 theaters this weekend, is expected to do $4M, but it could be more than that now. The 94% fresh feature film from Jalmari Helander (Rare Exports, Big Game) follows Aatami, an ex-soldier in 1945 who discovers gold in the deep wilderness of Finland while on his way into the city. Brutal Nazis on a scorched-earth mission discover his treasure trove. He must go through outrageous lengths to get his gold back – even if it means killing every last Nazi. Aatami is portrayed by the filmmaker’s long-time collaborator Jorma Tommila.
Sony also has the faith-based aimed Affirm title Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World this weekend.
The pic tells the story of the future heavyweight champion of the world from his impoverished childhood to channeling his anger to becoming an Olympic Gold medalist and World Heavyweight Champion. A near-death experience took him from the boxing ring to the pulpit. However, when he sees his community struggling spiritually and financially, Foreman returns to the ring and makes history by reclaiming his title, becoming the oldest and most improbable World Heavyweight Boxing Champion ever. George Tillman, Jr. directs. Khris Davis plays George Foreman. Sony has the movie booked at 3,000 locations with an outlook of $5M. Yesterday, previews that began at 4PM made $250K at 2,600 theaters. The $32M production was co-financed with TSG.
Meanwhile, Illumination/Universal/Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros Movie, made $2.97M to lead Thursday box office, -1% from Wednesday, for a third week of $73M and running total of $450M. Weekend four is expected to be in the $30M range. Through 23 days, Super Mario Bros is pacing 9% behind Incredibles 2 at the same point in time. That doesn’t mean it can’t catch up.
New Line’s Evil Dead Rise made $1.59M yesterday, -5% from Wednesday for a week’s gross of $32.2M. Weekend 2, estimated to decline -60% like most horror pics do, will be around $9.8M.
Other highlights among the top five at the Thursday box office: Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 finally became the top grossing installment in the franchise stateside with $171.5M, besting John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’s $171M. Fourthquel’s fifth Thursday was $500K, -2% from Wednesday for an $8M week.
MGM’s Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant at 2,611 saw a $457K Thursday, -4% from Wednesday for a first week of $8.67M.
Amazon’s Air at 2,823 theaters made $395K yesterday, -9%, for a third week of $7.3M, total gross of $43.6M.