We’re getting a Mario movie. About time, too.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo is in talks to bring its iconic red plumber back to the big screen after a 24-year absence. The article further reports that the movie will be animated (thank god) and headed up by Illumination Entertainment.
Now, this company hasn’t exactly had the best track record when it comes to movies. They’re the ones responsible for aggressively mediocre films like the Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (which completely missed the point of the original story) and Sing (which straight up didn’t have a point).
You can also blame them for unleashing that tide of horror that was the Minions and all the nightmarish memes that were spawned from it.
However, there may still be a chance of saving this.
Universal Pictures (Illumination’s parent company) has a history of working closely with Nintendo. They’ve partnered together on several theme parks in Japan and have apparently been talking over the deal for the last year.
Secondly, Mario, and video games in general, are way more popular than they were 24 years ago. I doubt you could find a kid today that hasn’t heard or seen Mario in one shape or form.
There is huge potential not just for this film, but for adaptations of all of Nintendo’s core properties. I’m talking Donkey Kong, Kirby, Link! Freaking Link!
You can’t tell me that a Legend of Zelda movie wouldn’t do gangbusters at the box office.
If this is the start of a larger push into film for Nintendo, then you can bet that they’re taking it very seriously.
The Easy Answer
Right, so there are two real answers to this: one easy and one that requires a little more of an explanation.
Firstly, the easy one.
This one ain’t hard. You’ve got a big, expensive movie that tanks at the box office and loses around $20 million domestically. Nintendo gets spooked and pulls the plug on any future plans.
It also certainly didn’t help that it was the first live-action movie of a video game to be made and released internationally. It cast doubt on whether the public wanted video game movies at all.
So that wasn’t a great start, but it is still only half the story.
The other half is Nintendo’s prestige.
It’s no real secret that Nintendo has a high opinion of itself within the gaming industry. While other developers are greedy, immature and obsessed with violence, Nintendo has taken the higher road. It makes games that everybody can enjoy, and this ethos has been behind some of the most iconic titles and characters in all of video-gamedom.
Speaking of which, you should really check out Joshua’s retrospective on the Zelda Series.
From fan Top Tens to Metacritic, love of Nintendo is universal.
But the horrible stuff they did to achieve it is where we’ll find our next answer.
The Hard One
Nintendo doesn’t like to let others play with its toys.
Whether its DMCA takedowns of fan games or the bizarre loopholes in their Creators Program Let’s Players have to jump through, Nintendo has shown a unique level of ruthlessness in keeping their brand pure.
Hell, by default, their YouTube algorithms appear to take down any footage from their games not published by an approved source.
I don’t think the Super Mario Bros. Movie was the source of this defensiveness. I think Nintendo already had a very high opinion of itself by that point. And given that the movie was a laughingstock, it didn’t square itself away with the prestige of the brand.
That’s why it has taken so long before we’re even getting talks of another Mario movie.
Nintendo was scared off and it spent the next 20 years licking its wounds. Only after partnering with a film company that they now trust are they considering it. And you can bet that Nintendo will be exercising a lot of control of the production if a movie comes to pass.
With all these gears turning behind the scenes, does this movie even have a chance at being good? If it was a game, I wouldn’t hesitate in trusting Nintendo. However, as the poster to the Super Mario Bros. Movie proudly states, “This is no game.”