Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo is about to conclude a deal with Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind the highly-popular Despicable Me movies, to make an animated Mario movie. Now Nintendo’s president Tatsumi Kimishima has said that they are close to making an announcement with regards to who Nintendo is going to partner with for the planned film.
In an interview with the newspaper Kyoto Shimbun, Kimishima said that Nintendo is hoping to close the deal with an animation studio as soon as possible, and if all goes well, they will be making the plans for the Super Mario movie official. Nintendo aims to release the movie before the Tokyo Olympics takes place in 2020.
For the planned Mario animated movie, Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario’s creator, will probably serve as producer as it has been reported that Nintendo is aiming to have a creative role in the production of the film instead of just licensing rights. This goes to show that the company wants to control the direction of the film, which is understandable given the history of the past Super Mario Bros. film.
Back in 1993, a live-action movie based on the popular Super Mario franchise was released, starring Bob Hoskins, as Mario. The movie quickly became a critical and commercial failure, that Hoskins even said that the project is the worst movie he’s ever been a part of. This incident made Nintendo become hesitant to license its franchises to film studios and is probably the main reason why they are taking a bigger role in the planned Mario animated movie.
When asked why Nintendo is looking to expand its brand through licensing deals, Kimishima said that fewer people, especially young children are finding out about Nintendo games through games. Instead, people are discovering Nintendo characters through official third party merchandise. In fact Nintendo even released a Super Mario themed cereal in partnership with Kellogg's as few months back. So this is the main reason why Nintendo is pushing for this animated movie, because they want to reach an even wider range of their target audience.
What do you think of Nintendo's plan for an animated Mario movie? I just can't imagine hearing Mario speak for an hour and a half, but maybe I'll be surprised.