As someone who forced his parents to go see the original Super Mario Bros. movie in the theater, I have always felt a bit of guilt inside over having a hand in keeping Nintendo away from the film industry. People have been clamoring for a live-action Legend of Zelda adaptation for years and properties like Metroid are ripe for some sort of film adventure. But Nintendo has held firm to their franchises, only recently deciding to possibly loosen the grip a bit.
There was the rumored Legend of Zelda series on Netflix — later denied by Nintendo — followed by word in their official earnings report in June that “for Nintendo IP, a more active approach will be taken in areas outside the video game business, including visual content production and character merchandising.” This prompted to Fortune magazine to reach out to Nintendo’s creative force and Mario mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto for some more clarity on what this means for the future. The word seems to be that the bad taste from Super Mario Bros. has finally been washed away:
“We’ve had, over the years, a number of people who have come to us and said ‘Why don’t we make a movie together—or we make a movie and you make a game and we’ll release them at the same time?’,” Miyamoto told Fortune at this year’s E3. “Because games and movies seem like similar mediums, people’s natural expectation is we want to take our games and turn them into movies. … I’ve always felt video games, being an interactive medium, and movies, being a passive medium, mean the two are quite different…
“As we look more broadly at what is Nintendo’s role as an entertainment company, we’re starting to think more and more about how movies can fit in with that—and we’ll potentially be looking at things like movies in the future,” said Miyamoto.
The key thing to look at is the trend in video game films, still not very good, but much better than they previously were in the early ’90s. Perhaps Nintendo sees a world where they can raise the bar and improve upon what is out there, providing the first positive video game film experience. Or maybe they just see that they can likely make some money by controlling more avenues than just their consoles with their prized characters.
Nintendo has a vast library it could pull from other than Mario, so the potential for some good is there. The problem with Super Mario Bros. is that there’s very little to go off of for some meaningful type of feature film (in the traditional sense). The only sure thing is that they would at least do better than the folks who thought making fungus a character was a good idea.