Last weekend, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” an animated-film version of the Nintendo video-game franchise, surpassed a billion dollars in worldwide ticket sales. Its première, on April 5th, was the biggest opening weekend of any animated film ever, beating out the previous record holder, Disney’s “Frozen II.” “Mario Bros.,” which stars Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, has also attracted a robust international audience, earning more than five hundred and thirty million dollars abroad. Recycling old intellectual property is a default formula in today’s Hollywood; nostalgia sells. Still, the scale of “Mario Bros.” ’s success has been striking. Although the Nintendo games were introduced in the United States four decades ago, adapting the Mario universe was a largely untested prospect. The only precedent was a bizarre live-action movie from 1993, featuring forcibly evolved dinosaurs and strange reptilian costumes that would be considered far too outré for children’s movies today. It flopped, earning less than the roughly forty-eight million dollars it cost to make.
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