As news started breaking that Nintendo Co., LTD and Illumination Entertainment (Universal Studios/NBCUniversal) have partnered together to bring Mario and company to the big screen in an untitled Super Mario Bros. animated film, I couldn’t help but cringe just a bit at the prospect of another animated film being developed by Illumination. While I thought that the first Despicable Me film and Sing were beautiful animated films, I have found that the rest of the Illumination filmography – which includes Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and Despicable Me 3 – have been far less of a wonder than what other animated film studios have been producing as of late. And with rehashed films like Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, The Secret Life of Pets 2, Sing 2, Minions 2, and Despicable Me 4 all on Illumination’s immediately scheduled future, it does nothing to assuage how I feel about them handling one of my favorite video gaming properties of all time.
Still, I am excited that the Super Mario Bros. IP is being brought to the silver screen as the last time the characters were seen on the big screen was the horrendously disastrous 1993 live-action film which starred Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper. That piece of shit film, directed by Rocky Morton & Annabel Jankel was so horrible, so misguided, and so far from the source material that Nintendo had been extremely reluctant to let another film studio try their hand at the property – until this past week’s announcement. I wonder what deal was struck between Nintendo and Illumination, what was presented between the two companies to each other, that convinced Nintendo to let Illumination try their hand at such a protected property as the Super Mario Bros. property has been.
I will admit, that even though the first feeling I had when I heard the news of the deal between Nintendo and Illumination was that of uneasiness, I am cheering for this deal to produce something positive, something wonderful – something so well-received that we may finally see Nintendo let Illumination (or other films studios) try their hands at other Nintendo properties. Properties like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Fire Emblem, or Donkey Kong… to potentially be on the cusp of seeing films based on these properties is certainly exciting. But I am getting ahead of myself here; we first have to see what Illumination will do with the Super Mario Bros. property and if it will succeed at the box office or not before we can talk about other Nintendo properties being adapted into future film projects.
I have my trepidations about this new film project and the parties involved. Not so much in Nintendo as I do with Illumination, but it is enough of a pause that it has me concerned as to just how good a film Illumination can put forth. I really want to see them succeed with this new Mario animated film project, but I fear that if they don’t put forth a good film, or one that lives up to the expectations of the legions of Mario fans, I think that Nintendo may once again put their properties back inside a lockbox, fearful of letting other film companies handle their properties for another twenty-five years. I have my reservations, but deep down I am really hoping that Nintendo and Illumination succeed in this new venture.