“Super Mario” makes box office history, surpassing $1 billion in less than one month

“Mario Movie” becomes first film of 2023 to cross the $1 billion box office threshold.

Photo courtesy of Illumination

“Mario Movie” becomes first film of 2023 to cross the $1 billion box office threshold.

Joseph Ferrer, Arts & Entertainment Editor

For a company with as many recognizable brands and characters as it has, Nintendo has been averse to dipping its toes into expanding its franchises outside of the scope of games and into the larger world of entertainment, and for good reason. The original live-action Super Mario Brothers movie in 1993 was received so poorly that it wasn’t until 30 years later that Nintendo attempted another foray into the film industry with an animated film produced by Illumination. Many fans initially had gripes both with the choice of studio and the celebrity castings for the film. Not only has the film proven to be wildly successful with it being one of the 50 films in history to have made over $1 billion at the box office, but “Super Mario” manages to capture what has made the franchise so beloved.  


If one were to look at “Super Mario” as a film on its own, it’s easy to see it as just another contrived animated film. The movie doesn’t feature meaningful character arcs or development, the plot has plenty of contrivances and moves at an incredibly fast pace from scene to scene but to view it only through this lens would be overlooking why the film is as successful as it is. “Super Mario” prioritizes capturing the spirit of the games by lovingly bringing the worlds and characters of the games to life in a film setting. The film is designed so that anyone with even just a passing familiarity with the video game series can enjoy it while also providing avid fans with references and small details in nearly every scene. The film isn’t going to win awards for engaging storytelling but what it does well makes it more than worth the watch for fans.  


While many initially took issue with the fact that celebrity voices would be replacing the voices of the main cast of characters, particularly with Chris Pratt as Mario himself, each of the main cast’s performances fit the characters and help bring them to life. Chris Pratt’s take on a Brooklyn accent helps flesh Mario out as a character who beforehand only had a vocabulary that consisted of “Wahoo” and “It’s a me.’’ Jack Black steals the show with his performance as Bowser by leaning into his comedic side, especially with the original song “Peaches.”  


Arguably the most impressive part of “Super Mario” is its astronomical success at the box office. It not only surpassed $1 billion in less than a month but also had the biggest domestic opening for an animated movie in history. While recent years have given audiences successful video game adaptations in the past, “Super Mario’s” wildfire spread of attention will no doubt lead to even more adaptations of iconic video game franchises. While it will likely be difficult for future films to reach the same level of success that “Super Mario” has had, this movie has the potential to pave the way for other beloved franchises to be introduced to a wider audience.