Nintendo is making an animated Mario movie with Minions and Despicable Me company Illumination Entertainment. This was finally confirmed in January. Now, Nintendo has shared some further details about the much-anticipated movie, including the fact that Nintendo is not afraid to back away from the project if the idea is not compelling enough.
In the English translation of a recent investor Q&A, Shigeru Miyamoto, who is producing the film, started off by saying he has been thinking about an animated movie for “many years now.” He said some wondered why Nintendo didn’t do this faster, as some believe “making a game is like making a movie.” But that’s not necessarily the case.
“Interactive experiences are completely different from non-interactive media, and to make a movie I want a film expert to do the work,” Miyamoto said about Illumination.
Miyamoto went on to say that he began discussions with Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri (who picked up an Oscar nomination for Despicable Me 2) more than two years ago. “Chris is extremely cost-conscious and time-conscious in his quest to make successful movies,” Miyamoto said. Meledandri is also producing the untitled Mario movie.
Perhaps more notably, Miyamoto added that Nintendo and Illumination might decide to back away from making a Mario movie if the script doesn’t live up to their standards. Right now, the screenplay is “progressing,” Miyamoto said, though it remains to be seen who the writers are. In Hollywood, just because a movie has been announced, doesn’t mean it will ever happen.
“We’ve talked together and share the feeling that if we can’t make something interesting we’ll just call it quits,” Miyamoto said. “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.”
As previously reported, the plan is for the movie to be in theatres before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020; that’s also when Nintendo hopes to have the Super Nintendo Land theme park open at Universal in Japan.
Miyamoto has previously experimented with film, even releasing a series of Pikmin shorts. Last year, Nintendo made it clear it was interested in expanding to films but that it would like to do “more than just license something.”
1993’s live-action Super Mario Bros. movie was a critical and commercial failure, with star Bob Hoskins–who played Mario–said it was the worst movie he’s ever been a part of.
Over the years, Nintendo has been very hesitant to bring its franchises–which with Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and others are among the biggest names in all of entertainment–to movies and TV. Given their prominence in the entertainment world, Hollywood has surely come knocking for adapatations, and now it appears Nintendo is finally moving ahead. Netflix was reportedly interested in making a Zelda TV show, though this never happened.
As for why Nintendo is looking at more licensing deals, Kimishima said in 2016 that fewer and fewer young people are finding out about Nintendo games through…games.Instead, they’re discovering Nintendo and its characters through things like officially licensed Mario toothbrushes. So you can expect these kinds of licensing deals to continue and possibly increase, Kimishima said at the time.
For more on Nintendo’s latest investor Q&A, check out the stories linked below.