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Are Studios Finally Listening to Audiences? Moral, Uplifting Content Dominates Early at 2023 Box Office

Photo by Corina Rainer via Unsplash

Are Studios Finally Listening to Audiences? Moral, Uplifting Content Dominates Early at 2023 Box Office

By Movieguide® Staff

In March of 2020, the world’s biggest movie markets shut down due to COVID-19 and theater owners and studios have brainstormed strategies of how to return to box office normalcy ever since.

However, after three years of experimenting and analysis, what was true of the pre-pandemic box office remains true today: movies that reflect the values of the majority audience win big at the box office.

In 2023 the box office numbers are reminiscent of pre-pandemic numbers, thanks in large part to the large amount of family-friendly and moral entertainment coming out in theaters.

According to BoxOffice Mojo data, of the top ten highest-grossing movies in the US, 7 of them contained moral and uplifting content, and patriotic, pro-family themes.

THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE recently surpassed 1.2B at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time. It holds the number one spot for domestic box offices earnings, followed closely by GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 3.

A portion of Movieguide®’s review reads:

THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE (2023) has a strong moral message about brotherhood, sacrifice, and working together to overcome evil. The movie has breathtaking animation that honors its iconic source material while breathing new life into the large cast of characters from both Mario video games and other Nintendo games of the same universe. For Mario and Luigi, love for one another helps them overcome their deepest fears and stand up against Bowser and his army of Koopas, Goombas, and Piranha Plants. Due to some intense animated action/violence, Movieguide® advises caution for younger children.

When looking at the data, it is clear that family-friendly and moral movies have lead the charge in resuscitating the box office and bringing audiences back to theaters.

“GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 has some of the most moving, gripping, funny, redemptive content in any Marvel movie,” Movieguide®’s review reads. “There are at least three positive references to God and some allusions to Heaven and its beauty. The movie also promotes compassion, courage, sacrifice, standing up to evil, doing the right thing, repentance, and family. However, some of VOL. 3’s violence is excessive. The movie has about 25 to 27 obscenities, a gross scatological joke and some homosexual jokes involving a minor effeminate villain. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.”

JESUS REVOLUTION is currently no. 15, but was shown in only half the amount of theaters compared to the industry’s blockbuster movies.

If the entertainment industry wants to continue to reach audiences then it is paramount that movies contain biblical values, moral and uplifting stories, and family-friendly content.

Full breakdown movie’s domestic box office revenue for 2023 releases:

  1. THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE ($560,893,170)
  2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 ($306,304,761)
  3. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA ($214,455,625)
  4. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 ($186,544,499)
  5. CREED III ($156,248,615)
  6. THE LITTLE MERMAID ($118,818,903)
  7. FAST X ($113,471,230)
  8. SCREAM VI ($108,161,389)
  9. M3GAN ($95,043,350)
  10. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES ($93,239,507)
  11. EVIL DEAD RISE ($66,450,801)
  12. COCAINE BEAR ($64,388,510)
  13. SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS ($57,638,006)
  14. AIR ($52,448,088)
  15. JESUS REVOLUTION ($52,102,987)

Using Movieguide®’s metric for moral, uplifting content (-4 to +4), the top 10 highest grossing movies in the US in 2023 only had one movie with a -3 or -4 score (excessive immorality).

The other nine ranged from -2 (caution for older teenagers) to +1 (discernment for younger children).

Moreover, movies like M3GAN, FAST X, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 contained conservative values and moral themes, despite their -2 ratings.

“FAST X contains some impressive action sequences. The chase sequence involving the bomb headed to Vatican City is very exciting,” Movieguide®’s review reads. “FAST X increases the personal stakes in the franchise by having the villain target Dom’s son. Cleverly, the filmmakers link Dom’s protection of his son with overt references to faith and Jesus. The movie promotes family, honor and sacrifice. FAST X has significantly less foul language than recent FAST & FURIOUS movies, but it’s still slightly excessive. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.”

Audiences are making the way forward for studios clear with their wallets—so far, studios are listening.


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