How’s this for an understatement of the year? Chris Meledandri, the founder and CEO of the Illumination feature animation studio, feels the 1993 feature film adaptation of Nintendo’s Super Marios Bros. “was not done well the first time.”
YEAH. We’re with you on that one, Chris. The first attempt at adapting Super Mario Bros was a notorious bomb, unpopular with audiences and game fans alike, mostly for the fact that it had little or nothing to do with the series it was purporting to adapt. Illumination would have to work really hard to bungle an adaptation that badly, and Meledandri seems to know it. As he said recently: “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. It’s an ambitious task. 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.”
That’s why Illumination is turning to one of the gaming industry’s luminaries as they move forward with their animated Mario Bros adaptation—Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. According to Meledandri, Miyamoto will be heavily involved with the project to ensure that it accurately captures the Nintendo spirit.
“We are keeping him front and center in the creation of this film,” he said. “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.”
There’s no release date or timetable yet for Super Mario Bros., but rumors suggest a possible 2022 date. So we probably won’t be hearing much about this adaptation for a while, but it’s certainly good to know that Miyamoto is there to shepherd his baby along. We look forward to reporting back once important news starts to trickle out—like vocal casting, which will surely be interesting.