Gaming mascots from the 1990s are making a big comeback! Detective Pikachu just hit theaters, and it’s already breaking records. “Most successful video game movie” may be a low bar, but the first live-action Pokémon movie definitely cleared it. Speaking of low bars, there’s also a Sonic movie on the way, and it’s already disappointing fans. Fans hated Sonic’s new look so much that Paramount is redesigning it. While these two movies are making headlines, another gaming icon is flying a little more under the radar. Sonic and Pikachu may both be eclipsed at the box office because we’re getting an animated Super Mario movie too. That’s right, Nintendo’s getting in on the action. Here’s everything we know so far!
Nintendo partners up
Back in 2014, there were rumors that Sony Pictures had acquired the rights to make a Super Mario movie. Leaked emails showed Sony producer Avi Arad rejoicing over securing the rights, but he must have jumped the gun. The project never came to light, but Nintendo was indeed looking for a partner to make the movie. In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo was teaming up with Illumination.
Illumination has a bit of a mixed track record when it comes to critical reception, but their movies have been extremely profitable. They’re best known for the Despicable Me franchise, and they’ve also adapted Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Grinch. They specialize in creating quality animation on a budget so they won’t be a huge drain on Nintendo’s resources.
This partnership is further solidified by Nintendo’s relationship with Universal. Illumination’s parent company. Nintendo and Universal are teaming up to create theme parks around the world, so they’ve been working side by side for years. It’s a fit that just makes sense.
Shigeru Miyamoto’s vision
Video game movies often lose sight of what made the games great in the first place, but that shouldn’t be the case with the Super Mario movie. Nintendo chose to work with Illumination partially because Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto got along so well with Illumination producer Chris Meledandri. The two met and spoke at length, and they realized they shared a similar creative process. Chris Meledandri promises that Miyamoto will have significant creative control.
We are keeping him front and center in the creation of this film. I’ve rarely seen that happen with any adaptation where the original creative voice is being embraced like we’re embracing Miyamoto. There’s a history in Hollywood of people believing that they know better than the people responsible for a property. I’ve made that mistake before.
According to Meledandri, Miaymoto has more say than just about any video game director in the past. However, Miyamoto knows he can’t do it alone. He spoke with “all sorts of different movie directors and producers” before choosing Illumination and Meledandri.
And now we wait
Nintendo and Illumination have been working on ideas for the Super Mario movie for a few years now, but they’re not going to rush it. You probably won’t see it in the next couple of years, although Illumination says it’s in priority development. The current launch target is 2022, which Meledandri calls “an ambitious task.”
Mario is one of the most iconic characters in the world, so it’s probably best that Nintendo and Illumination are taking their sweet time. Nintendo wants to avoid a repeat of the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie. Hopefully, it’s worth the wait!
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Nintendo Enthusiast’s Managing Editor. I grew up on Super Nintendo and never stopped playing. Been writing video game news, opinions, reviews, and interviews professionally for over a decade. Favorite franchises include Zelda, Metroid, and Mother.