It’s been decades since the twin plumbers have been seen outside of a Nintendo console, but with any luck, Nintendo’s recent talks with Illumination will bring the 32-year-old “Super Mario Bros.” franchise to life on the big screen.
Reporting by The Wall Street Journal confirms that one of the best-selling video-game franchises of all time, selling over 330 million units across all titles, is about to go Hollywood.
Nintendo’s First Big Move in Movies
The last time Nintendo tried to launch a Super Mario Bros. branded movie, in 1993, it was an embarrassment and a massive flop. Since then, the only remotely related effort was a series of 20 children’s animated movies based on the “Pokemon” games. This time, Nintendo is insisting on having more involvement in the creative process, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario Bros., has been part of the recent talks with Illumination and is rumored to be a co-producer on the project. It’s possible that these detailed talks are meant to span multiple movies, but only one is planned at this time. The production work will be completed by Illumination’s Paris studio, the same team that created recent release “The Secret Life of Pets,” but don’t expect the Mario Brothers movie to hit the box office for several years.
Video Game Movies are Still Big Risks
Despite the interest in Hollywood for video game-based movies, they tend to be fairly huge financial risks. Last year’s “Angry Birds” movie did decently, but the much-anticipated “Warcraft” film flopped dramatically in the US (but did do well in China). Other box office failures include: “Doom,” “Need for Speed,” “Prince of Persia,” and “Assassin’s Creed.” One of the more successful video game movie franchises was based on the game “Tomb Raider,” but even these films met with mixed results.
Despite the risk, Universal, co-owner of Illumination, has been pursuing the Nintendo deal for over a year now. It comes on the heels of a two-year-old deal between Nintendo and Universal to create a Super Mario Bros.-based theme park. According to Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima, these new projects aren’t about direct profits, but building more synergy for the videogame business.