Mario, Dracula, and Deadites are set to dominate movie theaters in April 2023. The month's film schedule offers a diverse array of options, from a highly anticipated video game adaptation to the return of a classic horror franchise and a sports movie that could be an early 2024 Oscar contender. Here are the biggest new movies to look out for in April:
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (April 5)
HBO's The Last of Us just raised the bar for video game adaptations, but can The Super Mario Bros. Movie one-up it? From the studio behind Minions comes this second attempt at turning the Mario games into a movie, although unlike the disastrous 1993 version starring Bob Hoskins, this one is animated and looks far more faithful to the source material. Chris Pratt is voicing Mario, a casting choice that has attracted much online derision. But the cast also includes the less contentious picks of Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, and Keegan-Michael Key as Toad. The plot involves Mario going on a quest to rescue his brother, Luigi, who has been kidnapped by Bowser. Based on the trailers, we can expect the film to pull from many corners of the Mario world, as there's even a sequence inspired by Mario Kart. Presumably, the sequel will be inspired by Super Mario Sunshine and follow Mario as he power-washes the Mushroom Kingdom for two hours.
Air (April 5)
How do you like these apples: Ben and Matt are back together again … again. Ben Affleck teams up with his buddy Matt Damon for this sports drama that Affleck directed, his first time getting behind the camera since 2016's Live by Night. Based on the true story, the film depicts how Nike made a lucrative deal with Michael Jordan, then a rookie, to create the Air Jordan sneakers. Damon plays Sonny Vaccaro, the man who signed Jordan to the deal, while Affleck plays Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike. Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, and Viola Davis also star, with Davis playing Jordan's mother, Deloris. Might she be an early Best Supporting Actress Oscar contender? Air premiered at South by Southwest to largely positive reviews, with Variety dubbing it "this generation's Jerry Maguire" and IndieWire saying it's a "slam dunk" and "one of the best sports movies ever made." He shoots, he scores!
How to Blow Up a Pipeline (April 7)
From Neon, the distributor behind films like the Best Picture-winning Parasite, comes this thriller that currently boasts a perfect 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Based on the nonfiction book of the same name, How to Blow Up a Pipeline follows a group of environmental activists who "execute a daring mission to sabotage an oil pipeline," per Neon, which describes the film as a "taut and timely thriller that is part high-stakes heist, part radical exploration of the climate crisis." The cast includes Lukas Gage of The White Lotus and Euphoria. The movie premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival and received almost universally positive reviews, with The Ringer's Adam Nayman saying the "incendiary, ticking-clock thriller" displays "a sense of outrage and urgency that distinguishes it from the vast majority of insular, apolitical independent American cinema." It's set to open in limited release.
Paint (April 7)
There are no mistakes in Owen Wilson's career, just happy accidents. The actor's latest film sees him play a TV painter who's "convinced he has it all: a signature perm, custom van, and fans hanging on his every stroke … until a younger, better artist steals everything," the plot synopsis says. He's clearly channeling Bob Ross, so it may come as a surprise that Wilson is actually playing a fictional character named Carl Nargle. Think of him as Schob Shcross. Michaela Watkins, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Ciara Renée also star. The movie has had a long road to the big screen after being on the Black List, a list of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood, in 2010. Back then, the plot synopsis said the film follows a "Bob Ross-esque PBS painting show." But to be clear, Paint isn't a direct adaptation of events from Ross' life, though it will still hopefully have plenty of happy little trees. We look forward to seeing Wilson follow up his role as Fake Bob Ross by playing Fake Mister Rogers.
Renfield (April 14)
Universal's shared universe of monster movies was an epic flop, so the studio has responded by pushing the giant red button marked "screw it, Nicolas Cage as Dracula." From the director of The LEGO Batman Movie, Renfield offers a comedic take on the Dracula mythology and focuses on his titular servant, played by Nicholas Hoult. "After centuries of servitude, Renfield is ready to see if there's a life outside the shadow of The Prince of Darkness," Universal's plot synopsis says. "If only he can figure out how to end his codependency." Cage plays Dracula, while Awkwafina stars as the love interest, and the rest of the cast includes Ben Schwartz and Adrian Martinez. Though it looks like more of a spoof, this is technically the first official Universal monster movie since 2020's The Invisible Man. But it's not like these characters haven't been repurposed for comedy before, as seen as far back as 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. So if Renfield is a hit, who's ready for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to meet the Wolfman?
Evil Dead Rise (April 21)
Horror is crushing it at the box office in 2023, and the grooviest franchise of them all is ready to join the party. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are producing this fifth installment in their Evil Dead series, which isn't a direct sequel to the 2013 remake starring Jane Levy but is set in the same universe as the original movies. This one revolves around a woman named Beth (Lily Sullivan), who goes to visit her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) at her apartment in Los Angeles. But they soon discover the Book of the Dead, which awakens the demons known as Deadites, is in her building, and blood-soaked hijinks ensue. Reviews out of South by Southwest suggested the film delivers all the twisted mayhem fans could hope, with Collider's Perri Nemiroff calling it "gnarly and WILD," and Slashfilm's Jacob Hall said it's "as unrelenting as the remake but as crowd-pleasing as the Raimi movies." This is also another horror franchise that's moving its setting to a major city after last month's excellent Scream VI, so it can't be long before Freddy Krueger makes his way from Elm Street to Paris.
Ghosted (April 21)
Chris Evans and Ana de Armas are just becoming a package deal at this point. With the new Apple TV+ movie Ghosted, the two share the screen for the third time after Knives Out and The Gray Man. This latest project of theirs is a romantic comedy with an action movie twist, in which "salt-of-the-earth Cole," played by Evans, "falls head over heels for enigmatic Sadie," played by de Armas, "but then makes the shocking discovery that she's a secret agent," Apple says. "Before they can decide on a second date, Cole and Sadie are swept away on an international adventure to save the world." Dexter Fletcher directs in his follow-up to 2019's Rocketman, and the script comes from the writers behind movies like Deadpool and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Adrien Brody, Tim Blake Nelson, and Amy Sedaris also star. Ghosted was originally set to be a Marvel reunion, as Scarlett Johansson was on board to play the de Armas character before dropping out due to a scheduling issue. Instead, Bond fans who were desperate for more de Armas espionage action after her brief appearance in No Time to Die are about to get their wish.
Beau Is Afraid (April 21)
At just 36 years old, Ari Aster has already directed two films that are widely considered modern horror classics: Hereditary and Midsommar. So can he go three-for-three? Aster's latest film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a "paranoid man" who "embarks on an epic odyssey to get home to his mother," according to studio A24, which calls the movie "ingeniously depraved." Yeah, sounds like an Ari Aster project. It's described as a surrealist horror film, though the trailer suggests it may verge a bit more into dark comedy territory than Aster's first two movies, perhaps suggesting we can look forward to slightly less terrifying nightmares this time. Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, and Parker Posey also star. Beau Is Afraid was previously titled Disappointment Blvd. but was given a new title, presumably after someone in marketing realized what the lede of every review would be if the film is, well, a disappointment.
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (April 28)
That pesky five-year time jump spelled the end of Abby Ryder Fortson's time with the Marvel universe, but for her next act, she's helping to bring an iconic novel to the big screen. Fortson, who played Scott Lang's daughter in the first two Ant-Man films, leads this adaptation of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, the 1970 novel by Judy Blume. In it, "11-year-old Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) is uprooted from her life in New York City for the suburbs of New Jersey, going through the messy and tumultuous throes of puberty with new friends in a new school," the official plot synopsis says. Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie star as Margaret's parents, while Kathy Bates plays her grandmother. The film adaptation comes from The Edge of Seventeen director Kelly Fremon Craig, and Blume has offered it the highest of praises, declaring on Today that it's actually "better than" her original novel.
Peter Pan & Wendy (April 28)
How many Peter Pan movies is too many? Disney hopes there's appetite for another as it keeps its live-action remake train moving. This latest one for Disney+ brings the classic 1953 animated film into live action, with Alexander Molony taking on the role of Peter Pan, Ever Anderson playing Wendy, and Jude Law playing Captain Hook. Yara Shahidi will also portray Tinker Bell, making her the first Black actress to take over this iconic role, and she's doing so just a few weeks before her Grown-ish co-star Halle Bailey plays Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Unlike The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan & Wendy isn't getting a full theatrical release, which generally isn't a great sign. But there's still reason to be optimistic given the film was directed by David Lowery. In addition to directing acclaimed dramas like A Ghost Story and The Green Knight, he also helmed 2016's Pete's Dragon, which is often cited as one of the best Disney live-action remakes. Stay tuned to see if he'll nail it again or if critics will pan this one.