Box Office: ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ Can’t Topple ‘Super Mario Bros.’

Are you there box office? It’s-a me, “Mario.”

Now in its fourth weekend of release, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is still dominating the competition on domestic charts, fending off theatrical newcomers “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” “Sisu” and “Big George Foreman.”

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The adaptation of Judy Blume’s best-selling 1970 novel is faring the best among new releases. Opening in 3,343 locations, the coming-of-age film earned $2.25 million on Friday, a figure that includes roughly $600,000 in Thursday previews. That may be enough for the Lionsgate release to project a third place finish for the weekend, but it’s ultimately an underwhelming result for a crowdpleaser based on a literary mainstay that carries a $30 million production budget.

That’s not to say support isn’t there for “Margaret.” The film has earned glowing reviews, landing a 98% approval rating from top critics on aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences are also a big thumbs-up, as research firm Cinema Score drew an “A” grade after surveying the first round of ticket buyers.

Lionsgate will look to make the most of that word-of-mouth, as “Margaret” continues to play through the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend. Beyond theatrical, the distributor can hope that the coming-of-age tale finds a shelf life as enduring as its source material’s.

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” stars Abby Ryder Fortson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates. As in the original book, the film follows sixth-grader Margaret Simon, who finds herself suddenly transplanted to the suburbs of New Jersey while wrestling with puberty and her religious identity.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is still towering over its competitors. The animated adventure is putting up yet another impressive hold, projecting a slim 37% drop from its previous outing for a hearty $37.5 million weekend gross. Already the highest-grossing release of 2023 so far, the film will almost certainly cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office this weekend. It’ll be the fifth title to notch that achievement since the onset of the global COVID pandemic, following in the footsteps of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Jurassic World Dominion” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

“Evil Dead Rise” looks to take silver after grossing $3.6 million on Friday, down 65% from its opening day last week. The nutty horror sequel looks to expand its total domestic gross to $43 million this weekend. It’s a rewarding run for the film, which carries a $19 million production budget and was initially slated to debut exclusively on HBO Max. But Warner Bros. shifted to a theatrical rollout and now looks to be rewarded in substantial ticket sales.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” continues to show staying power, looking to stick at fourth place on domestic charts. The Keanu Reeves action epic drew $1.2 million on Friday, down only 21% from a week ago. Total domestic gross should surpass $175 million through the weekend. With $373 globally, the “John Wick” entry is the third-highest grossing release of the year, behind “Super Mario Bros.” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

It’s clear that it’s somewhat of a quiet weekend at the box office when a film from 1983 is ranking in the top five. Disney is re-releasing “Return of the Jedi” this weekend to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the “Star Wars” trilogy capper. Playing in 475 theaters, the classic earned $1.75 million on Friday.

Also dropping stateside this weekend, the Indian epic “Ponniyin Selvan: Part Two” looks to land in the top 10 on domestic charts, projecting a haul around $3 million to $4 million. “Part One” opened to $4 million when it debuted last fall.

“Sisu,” a quirky Finnish action film being opened by Lionsgate, drew $1.4 million on Friday from 1,006 locations. The distributor fashioned a targeted marketing campaign and has looked to make a buzzy title among genre audiences after acquiring the title out of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The newly released George Foreman biopic, fully titled “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World,” will likely open outside of the top 10. Distributed by Sony’s Affirm Films banner, the title is projecting a $2.8 million debut.

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