Back in 1993, the cinematic abomination known as Super Mario Bros. assaulted audiences everywhere as one of the worst video game adaptations ever witnessed on the big screen. Perhaps the nearly 25 years that have passed since then was enough for Nintendo to distance itself from that epic failure, if the video game company’s plans for a new attempt at adapting the property is any indication.
As the Wall Street Journal reports (via iO9), Nintendo is close to making a deal with Illumination Entertainment to make an animated Super Mario feature film. THR confirms that the companies are near a deal, citing their own sources. The negotiations had been going on for about a year, buoyed by the theme-park partnership between Universal and Nintendo. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; presumably, the deal is currently for one film with the potential to further franchise the iconic video game property from there. It’s status: “early development”, so don’t expect much on this front for a few years. Illumination Entertainment currently has four untitled films slated for release in 2021, 2022, and 2023, so perhaps one of them will fall to Super Mario.
The good news is that this will be an animated adaptation, a very obviously superior idea to trying another live-action film. And with the release of Nintendo’s latest installment in the franchise Super Mario Odyssey receiving rave reviews, the world’s most famous plumber is back in the zeitgeist again. The not-so-great news, depending upon your tastes of course, is that Illumination Entertainment is going to be the creative force behind the movie. This is the studio that has cranked out the multi-billion-dollar Despicable Me franchise along with franchises-in-the-making like Sing and The Secret Life of Pets. There are some decent movies in their filmography, but the majority of them lean on easy jokes, low-brow and potty humor, and good ol’ cartoonish violence; it’s a low bar as far as animated movies go, but the kids seem to love it and audiences everywhere have rewarded their efforts with billions of dollars.
Super Mario promises to be more of the same. Nintendo may have a much bigger creative role in the making of the movie, owing to their rocky past with adaptations, but the fact that they’ve allied with Illumination Entertainment to begin with tells you exactly what kind of picture this is going to be. This plus Detective Pikachu could end up being little more than the next generation of awful Nintendo video game adaptations, but I live to be surprised.