In 1993, audiences got a Super Mario Bros. movie and it was pretty atrocious. The live-action adaptation of the popular video game whiffed pretty bad on the story of the Italian brothers who must save the Mushroom Kingdom. The adaptation was so bad that it pretty much scared Nintendo away from Hollywood for over two decades. But now a new Super Mario Bros. movie is in the works. It will be animated and from Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets.
Illumination founder and head Chris Meledandri tells Variety that because the first film was poorly met, it makes a new version more exciting because there’s a chance to do it right:
“I like that this was not done well the first time,” he said. “I think that’s more exciting or more worthy than simply making another version of a film that was done incredibly well to begin with.”
He goes on to say that a key difference between Illumination’s upcoming movie and the 1993 version is that they’re working closely with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto:
“We are keeping him front and center in the creation of this film,” said Meledandri. “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.”
Working with Miyamoto is obviously the smart move, but hopefully Illumination is also developing a strong story regardless of Miyamoto’s involvement. That’s not to say Miyamoto doesn’t know how to tell a story, but let’s be honest: his talent is as a game designer; it’s not like Mario or Zelda have particularly deep, complicated narrative. That’s not to say that a Mario movie needs to be on the level of Tolstoy, but you need a bit more than “Bowser kidnapped the Princess again.”
The Super Mario Bros. animated movie is in “priority development” and could be in theaters by 2022.