Nearly 25 years after a live-action version of Mario Bros. first appeared on the silver screen, the studio found out Despicable Me and minions is close to a deal to bring an animated Mario movie to theaters, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Illumination Entertainment, a subsidiary of Comcast-owned NBC Universal, is close to a licensing deal for the movie rights to the Mario games, according to “people with knowledge of the discussions,” quoted by the WSJ. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto would likely serve as the film’s producer, according to the report. Talks have been going on for about a year and the parties are currently finalizing how Nintendo itself would be in the creative approval process for the film, the paper said. The new report comes more than a year after Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima told the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper that the company was in talks with a number of movie studios to bring more of its popular characters to the big screen (in addition to the long-running pokemon anime movie and TV franchise). Nintendo is currently working with Universal to bring branded attractions to the company’s global theme parks, so there is some basis for the relationship there.
A deal for a Mario movie would be Mario’s first licensed TV or movie appearance since 1993’s critically panned (and reviled by Miyamoto) Super Mario Bros. with Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. But before you get your hopes up, remember that a comparable 2015 WSJ report of plans for a live-action Netflix series based on The Legend of Zelda was denied weeks later by Nintendo’s then-president Satoru Iwata. Even if a Mario movie deal goes through, a real movie wouldn’t hit theaters anytime soon; the WSJ suggests it “wouldn’t come true in a few years.” And there’s no guarantee we’ll see a final movie come out. Peter Jackson was attached to a movie based on Microsoft’s Halo franchise before those plans fell apart years ago. Much Hyped Plans For Gabe Newell And JJ Abrams To Collaborate On Portal and half-life movies fell through long before filming started. And movies based on game franchises like Space Invaders, asteroids, Spy Hunter, Tetrisand many more have been stuck in development hell for years since the license agreements were inked.
That said, we’d love to have an “official” animated version of Mario that’s a little more polished and modern than the embarrassing hindsight Super Mario Bros. Super Show and the follow-ups (or even the slightly better, incredibly surreal Japanese anime movie). Hey, is the team behind it? Hotel Mario‘s animated cutscenes still available?