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How The Internet Helped Turn The Super Mario Bros. Movie Into the Biggest Animated Movie Release Ever

3 minute read

When a movie with an adorable Mushroom Kingdom, badass Princess Peach, and “simp” Bowser all come together it means two things: the Internet will be flooded with memes and the film, in this case The Super Mario Bros. Movie, will be the most successful animated and video game adaptation movie release of all time.

Since releasing on April 5, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has become a major box office success. It’s the highest grossing-debut of 2023 so far, earning over $377 million worldwide in its opening weekend. This makes it the biggest global release for an animated film ever, beating out the previous title holder Frozen II. The movie is now production company Illumination’s most successful film, surpassing their popular Minions franchise.

Adapted from the video game that was first released in 1983 from the Nintendo Entertainment System, the movie is not the first attempt to bring the world of Mario to film. In 1993, Hollywood Pictures released Super Mario Bros., a live-action adaptation that tanked at the box office and was badly reviewed.

Now, millions are flocking to theaters to see the latest adaptation. While the film’s generous budget (over $100 million) and buzzy cast has undoubtedly helped draw viewers, it’s the enthusiasm from fans online that’s made the world of this plumber duo especially hard to escape these days.

Memes, illustrations, and hashtags have spread far and wide since the film’s release. On Twitter and TikTok, hashtags like ‘Super Mario Movie’ and ‘Super Mario Bros’ have accumulated nearly four billion views. The latter is one of TikTok’s highest trending tags in the last month, according to data from their Creative Center.

The nearly 40-year-old game is no stranger to memes, particularly niche ones for those that have engaged with its various iterations. When it was announced in 2020 that production on the film was underway, the Internet buzz began immediately. Fans promptly reacted on social media to the casting choices of Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, and Jack Black as Bowser. And when the trailer came out last fall, the reactions commenced, particularly from the fandom noticing Pratt’s new accent for their beloved protagonist Mario.

Viewers have also gathered on Reddit, with Mario’s subreddit fostering a community of over 130,000 and Nintendo’s subreddit of over 2 million, as they share comedic fan art and movie spoilers within the threads. The most dedicated fans are getting creative, sharing images of cosplay and comics that are getting tens of thousands of likes on Twitter.

Black’s original song “Peaches,” an ode from his beastly Bowser character to the blonde princess, has become such a viral hit it was turned into a full music video featuring the actor singing in a sheen green suit from a peach-toned piano. (The millions who have tuned may be eager to know it is eligible to be nominated for ‘Best Original Song’ at the Oscars.)

As anticipation grows for a sequel—(with a potential turn from Pedro Pascal as Wario), fans online are just getting started.

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Write to Mariah Espada at mariah.espada@time.com