‘Guardians Vol. 3’ and ‘Super Mario Bros.’ top box office again

Several new movies infiltrated theaters nationwide this weekend, from a lighthearted trip to Italy with Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen to a Ben Affleck-fronted detective thriller. The two top spots were once again claimed by Marvel and Mario, however.

In its second weekend, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” added $60.5 million from North American theaters, according to studio estimates on Sunday. That’s a slim 49% drop from its opening, which is rare for big superhero films that tend to be front-loaded and have big second weekend drops of 60% or more. As the smallest Marvel drop since the beginning of the pandemic, it also answers the “ superhero fatigue ” question that some floated last weekend. Including $91.9 million from international showings, “Vol. 3” has already grossed over $528.8 million worldwide.

Second place went to “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” with $13 million in its sixth weekend, bringing its domestic grosses just shy of $536 million. Families with younger children have had almost no other options at the theaters since Mario entered the picture, resulting in repeat viewings and its continued dominance at the box office, where it is still playing in 3,800 locations domestically. Globally, it’s at $1.2 billion.

With Chris Pratt in the leading positions of chart-topping movies, as Star Lord in “Guardians” and the voice of Mario, debates have ensued about how much of the draw is star power versus brand power.

It was an especially crowded weekend for new movies, opening both wide and limited in all genres and of all qualities.

“The second weekend in May is very notable, traditionally speaking, because it bridges the gap between a big summer kickoff movie (“Guardians 3”) and the next big blockbuster (“Fast X”),” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “Everyone in the business knew Guardians would dominate the weekend but it provided an opportunity for a lot of movies to get out there that hit that sweet spot between two behemoths.”

“ Book Club: The Next Chapter ” fared the best on the charts with $6.5 million from 3,508 locations. The sequel, released by Focus Features on Mother’s Day weekend, reunites the cast with director Bill Holderman and his co-writer Erin Simms. Audiences were heavily female (77%), Caucasian (59%) and over 45 (66%) and the hope is that there will be a Mother’s Day boost and decent holdover for the $20 million production. Older audiences typically don’t rush out on opening weekend. The first film opened to $13.5 million in 2018 and went on to gross over $104 million.

Robert Rodriguez’s “Hypnotic,” meanwhile, is bombing. The mystery starring Affleck as a detective whose daughter is missing cost a reported $65 million to make. It went into the weekend with poor reviews (32% on Rotten Tomatoes) and limited marketing from distributor Ketchup Entertainment, and earned just $2.4 million from 2,118 locations.

Other mid-level releases failed to make a big splash, including Charlie Day’s Hollywood satire “Fool’s Paradise,” which earned $443,140 from 784 locations, and the anime-inspired “Knights of the Zodiac,” which made only $535,000 from 586 theaters.

“BlackBerry,” Matt Johnson’s well-reviewed portrait about the rise and fall of the beloved smartphone starring Glenn Howerton and Jay Baruchel, got off to a bumpy start with $473,000 from 450 theaters.

Sony Pictures Classics also launched its Yogi Berra documentary “It Ain’t Over” in 99 theaters, making $106,000.

Dergarabedian noted that several independent films thrived this weekend with solid per theater averages, including IFC’s “Monica” ($26,500 from two theaters) and Bleecker Street’s “The Starling Girl” ($27,736 from four theaters).

“If you’re a moviegoer, you have a lot to choose from right now,” Dergarabedian said.

There was also quite a bit of competition on home screens, from a Michael J. Fox documentary on Apple TV+ to the Jennifer Lopez action pic “The Mother” on Netflix. “Air,” which is still in the top 10 after six weekends in theaters, also made its debut on Prime Video.

Things are going to pick up considerably next weekend when “Fast X” enters the summer box office race, followed by the live-action “The Little Mermaid” on May 26.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” $60.5 million.

2. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” $13 million.

3. “Book Club: The Next Chapter,” $6.5 million.

4. “Evil Dead Rise,” $3.7 million.

5. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” $2.5 million.

6. “Hypnotic,” $2.4 million.

7. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” $1.9 million.

8. “Love Again,” $1.6 million.

9. “Air,” $875,357.

10. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” $740,000.

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