An animated movie based on the iconic Mario video game franchise about plumbers Mario and Luigi is in early stages after Illumination Entertainment reached an agreement with Nintendo to produce the film.
Nintendo of America confirmed the news Wednesday in a tweet: “Nintendo and Illumination are partnering on a movie starring Mario, co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri!”
Miyamoto is the creator of Mario and many other Nintendo properties, and Meledandri is the owner of Illumination Entertainment, along with Universal Studios. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Nintendo and Illumination were near an agreement for a movie about Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. The games and spinoffs have sold more than 330 million units.
Illumination has produced the “Despicable Me” series, “Minions,” and “The Secret Life of Pets.” Nintendo agreed in 2015 with Universal Parks and Resorts to build attractions based on Nintendo characters including Mario and Luigi.
Nintendo made a deal that spawned 1993’s live-action “Super Mario Bros.” starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper, but the movie performed poorly at the box office.
WSJ reported in November that the “Mario” movie would be animated by Illumination’s Mac Guff studio in Paris and that the project was in the early stages of development. That means it will be several years before the movie is ready for release in theaters.
Video game movies have a mixed record in Hollywood. Three were released in 2016 — Sony’s animated “Angry Birds”; Legendary’s live-action “Warcraft,” which performed well in China; and New Regency’s live-action “Assassin’s Creed.” “Angry Birds” turned in a decent performance with a sequel in the works for 2019.