In one of the biggest IP deals of the year, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Universal Pictures and animation powerhouse Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets, Sing) are close to an agreement with Nintendo to make a Super Mario Bros. animated movie! The game, revolving around plumbers Mario and Luigi in a fantasy world of evil turtles and mushrooms, is the best-selling videogame franchise of all-time, with more than 330 million units sold.
Negotiations between Nintendo and Illumination have gone on for more than a year, and coincides with a deal struck last year for Universal theme parks to build attractions based on the Mario Bros. property. The video game’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, is expected to be a producer on the film and have a say in the creative development, alongside Illumination’s CEO Chris Meledandri. The film is still in the early stages of planning and wouldn’t come out for several years, and would be animated at Illumination’s Paris-based studio Mac Guff.
This deal comes after years of Nintendo being gun-shy about licensing their properties for films, especially after the terrible failure of 1993’s live-action Super Mario Bros. movie starring Bob Hoskins. Generally speaking, if a film based on a video game is received poorly by audiences (as most of them have been), it tends to devalue the brand in general. Some Nintendo characters have appeared on the big screen in recent years, with Mario’s nemesis Bowser making a cameo in Wreck-It Ralph, plus Donkey Kong, Mario and the Duck Hunt dog appearing in Pixels, but none have starred in their own animated feature just yet.
Are you excited for a Super Mario Bros. animated movie? Do you think Nintendo can finally break the video game movie curse? Let us know in the comments below!
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