Now that the Cat-Mario is out of the bag, and Nintendo has announced Illumination Entertainment will be developing the Super Mario film, fans have been wondering why and looking for a little more information on the partnership. Well, the creator of Mario (and Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pikmin, Star Fox, etc.), Shigeru Miyamoto, has finally spoken up!
Nintendo has been particularly cagey regarding licensing their characters out after ‘that which we shall not speak of’ from 1993. Luckily, time heals all wounds and the company is ready to strike back out and expand the reach of their cherished characters. The Nintendo Switch, their latest home console/handheld hybrid, launched last March and has already sold about 15 million units worldwide, putting them back on top after their previous console the Wii U failed to resonate with consumers. In fact, the Switch has already sold more in 11 months than the Wii U did in 4 years on the market. Couple that with the newest mainline Mario game, Super Mario Odyssey, being a critical and commercial success and you can see why Nintendo is feeling empowered to play with with Mario again outside of the video game industry.
Speaking at a recent Corporate Management Briefing Q&A, Miyamoto had this to say when asked about the recent film partnership:
“I’ve been considering an animated film for many years now. There has long been talk that Nintendo could make a movie because ‘making a game is like making a movie.’ But they are completely different to me. Interactive experiences are completely different from non-interactive media, and to make a movie I want a film expert to do the work. Thinking that way, I have talked with all sorts of different movie directors and producers, and eventually I was introduced to Illumination via Universal Parks & Resorts, with whom we are developing theme park attractions.
“As a producer, Chris Meledandri (Illumination’s CEO) is noted here for movies like Minions and Sing, but he is a veteran with a ton of experience, including the movie Ice Age and stints at companies like 20th Century Fox Animation. When I talked with Chris, he said he had read a lot of interviews with me and felt we had a similar approach to creation. Talking about our similarities, we clicked and decided maybe we should do some kind of collaboration. We started our conversation over two years ago, and finally reached the stage where we could make an announcement. Chris is extremely cost-conscious and time-conscious in his quest to make successful movies. We decided to try making a movie together, and distributing the completed movie globally through Universal Pictures.
“We’ve talked together and share the feeling that if we can’t make something interesting we’ll just call it quits. 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 you can see, one of the main reasons for this is Nintendo’s existing relationship with Illumination’s parent company Universal. I find it interesting and encouraging that both Miyamoto and Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri have a shared creation process, and that talks have been going on for two years prior to this announcement. Clearly, Nintendo is not looking to rush things. The detail that jumps out to me the most is if they feel they can’t make a damn good movie together, they will just walk away. I think that is something fans of any iconic franchises or characters can get behind. I wish more studios and filmmakers would have the gall to back off, rather than creating and releasing a film that just completely misses the point. Sounds like Miyamoto feel’s they are on the right track though and with him guiding the ship I feel very confident we’ll get something special.
So, what do you think about Miyamoto’s comments? Are you feeling optimistic about the Super Mario movie or think it will be yet another victim of the video game movie curse? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned to Revenge of the Fans, as I will have a column up analyzing the details surrounding the film in much greater depth sometime this week.