Filmgoers and video gamers alike were surprised by the news about an upcoming Super Mario movie from Minions studio Illumination—and Nintendo recently explained how the collaboration came to be. Although the project was rumored for some time, it was late in January when Nintendo finally confirmed the news to their investors, and to the public through a tweet.
Mario fans are sure to have purged the first attempt of a Super Mario Bros. movie out of their memories, with a 1993 live-action movie starring the late Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, respectively. The failure of that bizarre feature, with a strange, underground dystopian Mushroom Kingdom being a far cry from the colorful, cartoony world of the video games, caused Nintendo to be protective of their intellectual property, disallowing other companies to make movies of their franchises since then. Now, Nintendo is ready to get back into the game (no pun intended), but with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto taking an intimate role in this upcoming animated project.
Miyamoto told Bleeding Cool that he has been thinking about creating an animated movie for years, saying that “making a game is like making a movie.” But realizing that the mediums of film and video games are vastly different, the game designer wants the movie to be in the hands of experts in filmmaking. With Nintendo already collaborating with Universal on theme park rides based on Nintendo characters, Miyamoto found himself talking to some of the main players in Illumination.
Miyamoto continued on to describe his interaction with Illumination CEO, Chris Meledandri.
When I talked with Chris, he said he had read a lot of interviews with me and felt we had a similar approach to creation. Talking about our similarities, we clicked and decided maybe we should do some kind of collaboration.
Miyamoto continued to describe Meledandri, who is also a veteran of 20th Century Fox Animation (with films like Ice Age to his resume), as “extremely cost-conscious and time-conscious in his quest to make successful movies.” These are traits that obviously resonated with the famous game producer, known for his work ethic.
Nintendo fans have every right to be skeptical about any film projects based on their favorite games, as previous attempts at video game movies are rarely known to be successful. But regardless of one’s opinion of Illumination films such as Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets, it is difficult to not give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt with Miyamoto having such a prominent role in the film.
With the filming of a Detective Pikachu movie underway, Nintendo is expressing more confidence in other entities playing with their beloved characters – as long as they’re also babysitting from a certain distance. Miyamoto describes the talks as “progressing,” and promises more news on the Super Mario movie in the near future.