Vidgame giant hopes for high score at B.O.

Mario and friends are on their way to the bigscreen, this time in their own way. Japanese vidgame giant Nintendo is preparing to get into the film biz, likely by creating an inhouse unit to develop animated features based on the numerous properties owned by the company behind the GameCube and Game Boy systems.

Nintendo consultant and former prexy Hiroshi Yamauchi has put together a plan for the company to get into film production. He will soon present the proposal to the executive committee for consideration.

According to reports in the Japanese press, plan calls for Nintendo to create a pic based on one of its own franchises for theatrical release in 2006.

Yamauchi, who is still a significant shareholder in Nintendo, had previously said he would urge the vidgame company to make an animated feature based on the work of classic Japanese poets, which is apparently not part of the current plan.

Nintendo has previously licensed its properties to others to make movies. Its Pokemon games became a series of hit animated pics for WB, while 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.” from Disney was a critical and commercial flop.

Company’s Metroid franchise is in development with John Woo’s Lion Rock Prods.

If it adopts the plan, Nintendo would become the first vidgame company to establish a theatrical film production unit. Japanese publisher Square Enix is working on an animated feature based on its Final Fantasy franchise that will go directly to DVD.

With the growing convergence between games and Hollywood, many have speculated that large vidgame companies that don’t become aligned with studios may get into movie production.

Some vidgame publishers have expressed concern that a lack of creative control over licensed pics could harm their properties and that they won’t profit significantly from hit movies based on their games.

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