Nintendo, one of the biggest video game companies in history, hasn't bothered with movie adaptations for almost 25 years. Since the failure of 1993's live-action Super Mario Bros. starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper, there's been little to no interest to try again. Rumors have circulated in recent years about deals with Disney or general plans for big screen versions of its properties. But we're now on the verge of something real happening - and it involves the Mario brand.
According to the Wall Street Journal (via io9), Nintendo is nearing a deal with Universal Pictures and the animation studio Illumination Entertainment, makers of the Minions (via the Despicable Me trilogy and spin-off), plus recent hits Sing and The Secret Life of Pets. Last year, Universal announced its theme parks would be adding Nintendo-based attractions, as "Super Nintendo World," and Mario and other characters from his games will be a big part of that. There's even been hints of a Mario Kart ride. So, doing a movie with Universal makes sense.
It also makes sense that an animated feature is the way to go with Super Mario Bros. in order to get everything right. (Nintendo has already had more success producing Mario cartoons on the small screen over the years). Older fans might not be as interested in a movie geared toward kids, so the challenge would be to attract both young audiences as well as the nostalgic and ongoing grown-up gamers. Those of us who were disappointed by the live-action movie are now on in years and will want to seek out the new effort as potential justice for the beloved characters.
What the plot of the movie could entail is anyone's guess. Reports are saying this is a Super Mario Bros. movie, though it could be based on any of the Mario-led games. Mario Kart is a very popular game series that might spawn a nice feature film idea. One thing we can assume, though, is that unlike the live-action adaptation, Mario and his brother Luigi won't be plumbers in the real world. Nintendo recently clarified that Mario isn't a plumber anymore and that was just one of his many past professions. He's also been a carpenter in Donkey Kong and an athlete in various sporting games.
Once the deal is finalized, we'll still have to wait a few years, given the length of production time needed for quality animated movies. But hopefully we'll hear more details as the development on the Super Mario Bros. movie continues.