Since its release, The Super Mario Movie Bros. Movie broke box office records, earning more than one billion dollars at the global box office making it the most successful video game movie in history, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It’s such a breakout success that even the CEO of Disney is giving it props.
During a quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger metaphorically brandished a peace flag whilst congratulating rival studio Universal Pictures for the box office success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The mouse-house CEO cited the video game film’s success as an example to his suits that money—er I mean moviegoers—love animated films (seemingly designed in a lab) enough to open their wallets and make it rain on their jovial mascot as well.
“Good afternoon everyone,” Iger said at the start of the earnings call. “Allow me to digress for a moment to congratulate Universal for the tremendous success of Super Mario Bros…It certainly proves people love to be entertained in theaters around the world, and it gives us reason to be optimistic about the movie business.”
Universal has been eating Disney’s lunch for a minute
While Disney isn’t hurting in the box office department thanks to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (which outsold the Mario movie on its opening weekend), Disney has been floundering a tad in the animation department as of late. Pixar’s Toy Story spin-off, Lightyear, and Disney’s original sci-fi animation Strange World earned totals of just $200 million and $100 million globally last summer and fall, respectively, according to CNBC. Universal Pictures via Illumination, on the other hand, tallied a total of $940 million and $500 million for the Despicable Me spin-off, Minions: Rise of Gru, and the Shrek spin-off spectacle, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. So it’s not like the box-office lucre isn’t out there, it’s just that Disney’s recent animated features have been largely missing the mark.
To Iger’s credit, even Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was surprised by Illumination’s box office success with the Mario movie.
“I did have a level of expectations that this movie would also do well. But I was very surprised that it went beyond what I could have imagined when it finally came out,” Miyamoto told the Japanese press (translated by Video Games Chronicle). “You need some luck to achieve this level of success for a film. While many foreign critics have given the movie relatively low ratings, I think that also contributed to the movie’s notoriety and buzz.”
Here’s hoping that (if one can/should root for an entertainment media conglomerate) Disney can pull off a box office dub with its upcoming animated films, Elemental and Wish, which hit theaters later this year.