NEW YORK – “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” continued to rack up coins at the box office, leading ticket sales for the third straight weekend, as the animation hit neared $1 billion after just 18 days in theaters.
The weekend’s top new release, the horror reboot “Evil Dead Rise” debuted solidly, launching with $23.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. But that was no match for Universal Pictures’ “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which grossed $58.2 million in its third weekend.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is setting a torrid pace for an animated movie. This week, it became the highest-grossing animated released of the pandemic era, with domestic ticket sales up to $434.3 million through Sunday and its global tally at $871.1 million. When “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” soon passes $1 billion worldwide, it will be just the fourth film of the pandemic era to reach that benchmark, following “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Top Gun Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
“Evil Dead Rise,” From Warner Bros. and New Line, is the fifth installment (and first in a decade) in the thriller franchise that Sam Raimi began with this 1981 ultra-low-budget classic, “Evil Dead.” Though Raimi’s subsequent and much-adored films starring Bruce Campbell grew increasingly slapstick, marrying comedy and horror, the 2013 reboot and “Evil Dead Rise” (with Raimi as an executive producer) rely on chillier frights.
“Evil Dead Rise,” which had a reported budget of $17 million, also had originally been planned as an HBO Max release. When Warner Bros. decided direct-to-streaming films weren’t financially appealing, it pushed some films – including “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” and “House Party” – to theaters, and simply canned a few others including “Batgirl” and “Scoob! Holiday Haunt."
Amazon Studios' “Air," likewise initially was intended to go straight to streaming, has also continued to perform well theatrically. The Ben Affleck-directed film, about Nike's courting of Michael Jordan, dipped a modest 29% in its third weekend with $5.5 million to bring its cumulative total to $41.3 million.
But while horror remains one of the most dependable genres at the box office, and families — after a long dry spell of all-audience releases — have flocked to “Super Mario,” some adult-oriented releases have continued to have a harder time attracting audiences.
Guy Ritchie's “The Covenant,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal as an injured army sergeant in Afghanistan, opened with $6.3 million in 2,611 theaters. But with mostly good reviews (81% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and an “A” CinemaScore from ticket buyers, the MGM release may hold well in coming weeks.
Ari Aster's “Beau Is Afraid,” the most expensive movie ever made by specialty studio A24, expanded until near-wide release, going from four theaters to 926. Aster's three-hour opus, received with more mixed reviews than his previous two films ("Hereditary," “Midsommar”), took in $2.7 million.
Searchlight’s “Chevalier," starring Kelvin Harrison as the 18th century French composer and violinist Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, also failed to make a dent. It took in $1.5 million in 1,275 theaters.
But with overall business in movie theaters largely thriving thanks to spring hits like “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “John Wick: Chapter 4” ($168.9 million domestically in five weeks of release), the theatrical industry will have much to celebrate when it convenes Monday in Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon. Studios, beginning with Sony Pictures on Monday, will hype their summer blockbusters as Hollywood looks to return to pre-pandemic box-office levels.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "Super Mario Bros," $58.2 million.
2. “Evil Dead Rise,” $23.5 million.
3. “The Covenant,” $6.3 million.
4. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” $5.8 million.
5. “Air,” $5.5 million.
6. “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” $5.4 million.
7. “The Pope's Exorcist,” $3.3 million.
8. “Renfield,” $3.1 million.
9. “Beau Is Afraid,” $2.7 million.
10. “Suzume,” $1.6 million.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP