New Releases Struggle in the Shadow of ‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’s Success

Last weekend’s massive opening of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” looms large over this week’s box office, as new releases “Renfield” and “The Pope’s Exorcist” are poised to pale in comparison. 

Despite fairly positive reviews, “Renfield” and “The Pope’s Exorcist” are expected to bring in only modest sums of around $10 million each in their opening weekends. This is dwarfed by the continued success of Illumination and Universal’s animated adaptation of the popular Nintendo video game franchise, which dominated last week with a $146 million debut and is estimated to capture between $58 million and $66 million in its second frame.    

With a $100 million budget, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has already grossed over $375 million globally and $204 million domestically, cementing its status as a rare immediate blockbuster in the ongoing COVID-19 era. It marks an auspicious revival of family films attracting crowds to theaters.  

In contrast, new monster-comedy “Renfield” carries a hefty $65 million price tag but has failed to generate much buzz. Directed by Chris McKay (“The Lego Batman Movie”) and starring Nicholas Hoult as Dracula’s co-dependent henchman looking to break free, the film has received positive reviews praising Nicolas Cage’s comedic performance as the Count. However, its box office prospects remain muted given the dominance of “Super Mario Bros.”

Similarly, supernatural thriller “The Pope’s Exorcist” is projected to collect only $10 million from 3,100 theaters despite starring Russell Crowe. Directed by Julius Avery and based on the true story of the Vatican’s chief exorcist uncovering a sinister cover-up, reviews have dubbed the $18 million film “thin” and unoriginal. While horror continues to fare well at the box office, “The Pope’s Exorcist” lacks the ingenuity and micro-budget of most successful recent examples in the genre. 

Overall, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is poised to claim the high score at the box office again in its second weekend, as “Renfield” and “The Pope’s Exorcist” struggle in its sizable shadow. The video game adaptation’s success highlights the ongoing challenges facing larger-budget films in attracting audiences back to theaters.