Nintendo Exec Explains “Mario” Animated Film

Last month came the surprise news that Nintendo was teaming with “Minions” creators Illumination Entertainment for an animated movie based on the “Super Mario Bros.” franchise.

Nintendo has been famously reluctant to license any of its characters or properties for film adaptations in the past following the disastrous live-action “Super Mario Bros.” film in the 1990s, but they have started to slowly thaw on that stance.

Universal Studios is currently setting up a Super Mario World theme park at their Japan location so the deal makes some sense as Illumination is a Universal-based animation company. Nintendo’s co-representative director Shigeru Miyamoto recently explained to Bleeding Cool during an investors meeting why they went with them on the project:

“I’ve been considering an animated film for many years now. There has long been talk that Nintendo could make a movie because ‘making a game is like making a movie.’ But they are completely different to me. Interactive experiences are completely different from non-interactive media, and to make a movie, I want a film expert to do the work.

Thinking that way, I have talked with all sorts of different movie directors and producers, and eventually I was introduced to Illumination via Universal Parks & Resorts, with whom we are developing theme park attractions.

As a producer, [Illumination’s CEO] Chris Meledandri is noted here for movies like Minions and Sing, but he is a veteran with a ton of experience, including the movie Ice Age and stints at companies like 20th Century Fox Animation. When I talked with Chris, he said he had read a lot of interviews with me and felt we had a similar approach to creation.

Talking about our similarities, we clicked and decided maybe we should do some kind of collaboration. We started our conversation over two years ago, and finally reached the stage where we could make an announcement. Chris is extremely cost-conscious and time-conscious in his quest to make successful movies. We decided to try making a movie together, and distributing the completed movie globally through Universal Pictures.”

Miyamoto also makes it clear that just because they have announced the project, it doesn’t mean it is a certainty:

“We’ve talked together and share the feeling that if we can’t make something interesting we’ll just call it quits. But we’ve already met a number of times to hash out the screenplay, our talks together are progressing, and I hope to make an announcement once we’ve ironed out some things like the schedule.”

Nintendo is riding high on the Mario franchise lately following the resounding sales and critical success of last year’s Nintendo Switch title “Super Mario Odyssey”.