The $1.36 Billion Movie Critics Hated Sets Mind-Blowing Netflix Record

The $1.36 Billion Movie Critics Hated Sets Mind-Blowing Netflix Record
Image credit: Universal Pictures

It now seems to be Nintendo's most commercially successful product. Even more successful than the original video games themselves.


  • For almost three months now, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has been one of the most watched films among American Netflix subscribers.
  • Despite its tremendous commercial success, critics have hated it, giving it a 59% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Yet audiences continue to love it, enjoying both the nostalgic references and the fun storyline that kids love.

If you thought the most annoying franchise in American cinema was Despicable Me, you're... well, you're pretty much right. After all, 14 years after the release of the first movie, the franchise is not only alive and well, but actively growing, releasing endless content about Gru and his minions and generating billions of dollars a year in related merchandise. It's even taken over Netflix, as Despicable Me 2 spent an insane 12 weeks at the top of the global box office.

But today we're going to talk about an entirely different franchise, one that belongs to Japan's Nintendo. Yes, we're talking about the highly acclaimed The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which seems to have broken all records for an animated film. It is one of the most lucrative, most technically challenging, and most nostalgic.

The $1.36 Billion Movie Critics Hated Sets Mind-Blowing Netflix Record - image 1

In other words, it turned out to be exactly the 'most' movie, including the status of 'most soulless' as well as 'most watched among American Netflix users'. Let's delve a little deeper into this colorful animated film about the iconic Italian plumber and try to understand why it has been at the top of Netflix for 2.5 months.

A Little Bit About the Iconic Franchise

Mario is a multimedia franchise created by Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto in the early 1980s. Most people know it for the legendary Super Mario Bros. released for the NES in North America in 1985. Inspired by the cartoons of the 1930s, the series tells the story of two Italian plumber brothers, Mario and Luigi, who miraculously find themselves in the Mushroom Kingdom. Typically, their adventures involve rescuing the ruler of the kingdom, Princess Peach, from one of the main antagonists, Bowser.

Since then, the franchise has grown to incredible proportions, encompassing not only endless video games on all sorts of platforms (mostly produced by Nintendo itself), but also comic books, several television series, and theme parks under the Universal umbrella in Hollywood and Japan.

This Commercial Hit Broke Netflix Ratings Records

The movie grossed an astounding $1.36 billion at the worldwide box office, and its popularity hasn't waned with its addition to Netflix, even though the hype around commercial hits usually dies down after a few months (how often do you see Barbies in the media these days?).

For example, The Super Mario Bros. Movie stayed in Netflix's Global Top 10 for an incredible 10 weeks, accumulating tens of millions of views worldwide. But the most interesting aspect is that this 2023 novelty continues to hold its position in the U.S. Top 10: for the week of February 5-11, The Super Mario Bros. Movie came in at number four, marking its eleventh week on the list of most-watched movies.

Fun Movies Don't Have to Be Sophisticated

Basically, the story follows a traditional Mario formula: Mario and Luigi miraculously make their way from the sewers of Brooklyn to the Mushroom Kingdom, where they become embroiled in a conflict between Peach and Bowser. Although Shigeru Miyamoto originally intended for the story to take place in New York City, the games never directly addressed Mario's origins; such a plot only exists in the first attempt at a live-action adaptation, 1993's failed Super Mario Bros. Old-schoolers also enjoyed other references to the original games, including Donkey Kong, Luigi's Mansion, Mario Kart, and more.

In addition, many reviewers commented on how much their children enjoyed the movie. The fairytale atmosphere, colorful style, and straightforward plot will appeal to any young fan of the video game series.

The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes was a solid 95%, while the critics score was only 59%. The latter noted that the script lacked depth, but this only confirms that ordinary viewers do not always need cinematography and deep subtext. Sometimes you just want to have a good time with your family watching a funny and uncomplicated movie.