Illumination's Super Mario Bros. Film in 'Priority Development' for Possible Release by 2022

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Co-producer Chris Meledandri discusses involvement of franchise creator Shigeru Miyamoto

Illumination Entertainment founder Chris Meledandri revealed in an interview with entertainment news source Variety on Tuesday that the planned animated film adaptation of Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. game franchise is in “priority development” and may debut in theaters by 2022.

In reference to the franchise's 1993 live-action film, Meledandri said, "I like that this was not done well the first time." He added, "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.” For Meledandri, "The challenge is taking things that are so thin in their original form and finding depth that doesn't compromise what generations of fans love about Mario, but also feels organic to the iconography and can support a three-act structure.”

Meledandri is co-producing the film with Super Mario Bros. creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Meledandri told Variety that Miyamoto is "front and center in the creation of this film" and noted that the "original creative voice" is often absent from Hollywood film adaptations. Miyamoto also discussed the film and Meledandri's involvement in February.

Nintendo announced in February that Universal Studios' subsidiary Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, Minions, Sing) had begun planning the animated film. Both Nintendo and Universal Pictures are funding the project, and Universal Pictures will distribute the film worldwide.

The Wall Street Journal and The Hollywood Reporter both reported last November that Illumination Entertainment was "close to an agreement" with Nintendo to produce an animated film based on Super Mario Bros., with talks reportedly ongoing for more than a year. At the time of the report, a person with knowledge of the discussions said that the possible agreement could allow Illumination Entertainment to make multiple films based on the franchise, but only one film is currently planned. The report also noted at the time that Illumination Entertainment's Mac Guff studio in Paris would animate the film, and that it was in the early stages of development.

Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun newspaper in May 2016 that Nintendo was in talks with production companies to make films based on its games.

The Buzzfeed website reported in 2014 that Nintendo was in talks with Sony Pictures for film rights to the Super Mario Bros. franchise. The live-action Ghost in the Shell film's producer Avi Arad was linked to the production.

Nintendo is already collaborating with Universal Studios to produce Nintendo attractions for its Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando Resort, and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks. Osaka's Universal Studios Japan began construction of its "Super Nintendo World" attractions in June 2017.

Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel directed the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. film starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper.

The franchise's most recent game, Super Mario Odyssey, shipped for the Nintendo Switch in October 2017. The game sold an estimated 2 million copies in the first three days.

Source: Variety (Brent Lang)

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