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Box Office: ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Pacing for Huge $128M-Plus Five-Day Opening



Let the Easter egg hunt begin.

Illumination and Universal’s Nintendo video game adaptation The Super Mario Bros. Movie is off to a rip-roaring start at the box office, and looks to score at least $128 million in its five-day domestic debut over the long Easter holiday weekend after starting off Wednesday with an estimated $26 million, according to early models.

More bullish pundits suggest the movie could even clear $140 million to $150 million. (Final Wednesday numbers will be released Thursday morning.)

Super Mario has every chance of becoming the first blockbuster of 2023, if tracking is any indication. Not only is the PG-rated pic whipping up interest among families, it is appealing to the generations of adults who grew up playing Nintendo’s wildly popular Mario games (or those who still play).

The movie is opening Wednesday in order to take advantage of spring holidays. It is also unfurling in 70 markets overseas and opened to an impressive $8 million on Wednesday in select Asia-Pacific territories, including a robust $5 million in China.

The animated comedic adventure story follows Brooklyn plumbers and brothers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) as they are transported to the magical Mushroom Kingdom world and separated. The movie’s voice cast also includes Keegan-Michael Key, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen, Kevin Michael Richardson and Sebastian Maniscalco. Charles Martinet, who has voiced the characters of Mario and Luigi in the Super Mario games for more than three decades, also makes a special voice appearance.

The film is directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic from a screenplay by Matthew Fogel. It is co-financed by Universal, parent company of Chris Meledandri’s Illumination, and Nintendo.

Ben Affleck’s Air is opening Wednesday as well and, based on early returns, is eyeing a five-day debut in the $16 million range.

Air is historic in that it is the first movie from Amazon Studios to receive an exclusive theatrical release in thousands of theaters around the world before streaming on Prime Video at a yet-to-be announced date. The film boasts glowing reviews and a coveted Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score of 99 percent.

The biographical sports marketing drama — starring Matt Damon and Viola Davis — chronicles Nike’s early game-changing days and is backed by Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures. It’s also the inaugural project from Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity, which the duo co-founded last year with RedBird Capital, and is the first time Affleck has directed Damon in one of his movies.

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