Illumination Entertainment, The Latest Animation News

Illumination and Nintendo planning Super Mario Bros. film

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Super Mario Bros. characters

Super Mario Bros. is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, having sold over 330 million units total, according to Nintendo.

We’ve seen animated films based on toys (The Lego Movie franchise). We’ve seen animated films based on video games (Angry Birds). We’ve even seen an animated film based on a Smartphone-based sprite (The Emoji Movie). But one thing we haven’t seen yet is an animated film based on a Nintendo property. Well that could be changing soon.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Universal Pictures’ Illumination Entertainment is in the process of closing a deal with Nintendo to create a full-length animated feature film based on the long-running Super Mario Bros. video game franchise. Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me franchise and The Secret Life of Pets, has been in discussion with Nintendo for over a year on a possible film licensing deal.

This follows the companies’ previous agreement two years ago, which allows the Universal theme park to make attractions featuring Mario and other Nintendo characters. Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima said this April in an analyst briefing that Nintendo is interested in making theme-park and movie deals less for licensing profits and more for sales that would come from “synergy with the dedicated videogame business.”

If Illumination and Nintendo sign off on this current deal, Illumination could have the rights to make multiple animated films starring Mario and company, although only one is currently planned.

One challenge this potential film faces is surmounting the shortcomings that have befallen past video game-to-film adaptations. In the past several years, live-action movies such as Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, and Prince of Persia failed to capture the magic of their video game counterparts or do well at the box office. Only Angry Birds earned enough to warrant a sequel, currently due in 2019.

Aside from the Pokémon films, Nintendo hasn’t made movie deals for any of its characters since 1993’s ‘so bad it’s good’ live-action Super Mario Bros. starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper. Following this debacle, it only makes sense that Nintendo would be hesitant to pursue more films with the potential to tarnish their much-loved video game properties. Luckily, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario Bros. himself, is said to have been part of the talks with Illumination and is likely to be a producer on the movie along with Illumination’s chief executive Chris Meledandri.

Super Mario Bros. Movie (1993)

Someone thought this was a good idea.

If all goes as planned, we could see the titular, adventuring plumbers Mario and Luigi on the big screen in the next several years.

Via The Wall Street Journal.

What’s your take on this announcement? Do you think an animated Super Mario Bros. movie would be a good or a bad idea?

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About Amber

Amber is an imaginative storyteller and visual artist whose greatest ambition is to tell meaningful stories that resonate with people. Since she was young, Amber has enjoyed escaping to faraway worlds through animation, and has continued to follow animation into adulthood because of its limitless storytelling possibilities. Picking favorites is nearly impossible, but Amber would say her top animated films include The Little Mermaid, The Incredibles, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Frozen. She graduated with a B.A. in Interactive Media/Graphic Design and a minor in Journalism, and is currently working as an advertising designer. When she’s not at her day job, Amber can be found working on digital illustrations and photo edits, drafting a new fiction story, or crafting a new cosplay. Send her a tweet at @amber_ld.
  • Manuel Orozco

    I’m not a big fan of Mario but I’ll watch anything done by Illumination. Just need star power and the studio’s trademark blend of genuine whimsy and Looney Tunes style quirk!

  • Dave 52

    have a love/hate relationship with Illumination. On one hand, I think the original Despicable Me is still a pretty solid animated comedy. On the other hand, they haven’t made a film I could call “good” in a while. All their other films range from mediocre to just terrible. However, I felt a surge of joy when I heard this announcement. I feel you can do a lot of great things with a Mario movie from both a comedy and visual perspective and fully embrace the wackiness of the concept in animation. This could be as fun and energized as something like the original Despicable Me, or Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, or The SpongeBob Movies, or even Captain Underpants. And, when you really think about it, Illumination does do certain things in their films that could work well in a Mario film. Especially when it comes to cartoony antics and physical comedy, which is especially something a Mario feature can do and use it to it’s advantage. I just hope that Nintendo pushes Illumination to get a good team to make this film and make it something above their regular offerings. They have a property that has the making for what could be a wildly creative and hilarious film and it would be terrible to see what could be something great be lost just because Illumination doesn’t want to try.

    • dlizsehshus

      Disagree. Sing was excellent and Secret Life of Pets was okay.

      • Manuel Orozco

        Sing was excellent Pets was really good

      • Dave 52

        If you like the movies that’s fine. I just don’t find some of their more recent offerings as good as they can be or good at all. However, I will say that out of both films they released last year I found Pets more memorable than Sing. At least Pets was the equivalent of an okay Looney Tunes cartoon at best. I just felt Sing was American Idol with animals that was just an excuse to play popular songs that everyone knows. I honestly got more out of the first ten minutes of Minions then I did with Sing as a whole.

        • dlizsehshus

          And I have the right to disagree like I said.

          Meh I have no problem with Sing using pop songs. As long as its done well and it was here.

          Don’t understand the American Idol comparison at all. Plenty of films that use Pop Songs in their storytelling.Two come to mind are Moulin Rouge and Across the Universe.

          • Manuel Orozco

            And Happy Feet

  • Chelsea Warner

    Mario is something I can take or leave, but I will give it a chance.

    • Manuel Orozco

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t even do video games these days like one of my two brothers but what the hey?

  • I will remain optimistic on this. Apart from Minions and
    The Lorax, this studio has put out solid movies. I don’t
    think this will end up being great, but enjoyable enough
    depending on who ends up writing and directing this.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Maybe you’re right on being enjoyable enough

  • Harith Sami

    Get ready for a new wave of Mario memes (specially on facebook).

  • Brandon Collup

    I think it would be cool if they went back to the beginning with a film that combines Donkey Kong, DKJr., DK3, Mario Bros., and Wrecking Crew, with hooks for Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country films. I can see a story involving Donkey Kong escaping while under Mario and Luigi’s watch and running amok in New Donk city, while Foreman Spike is the real bad guy. Pauline of course is the love interest running for mayor, though she ultimately doesn’t end up with Mario to leave room for Princess Peach in the SMB sequel.