Mario and Luigi might be headed back to the big screen, but this time they’ll go the animated feature route for their cinematic adventure.
Universal Pictures and its animation studio, Illumination Entertainment, are reportedly in talks to produce an animated movie based on the iconic Nintendo game franchise Super Mario Bros. According to The Wall Street Journal, talks between Universal, Illumination, and Nintendo have been going on for more than a year now, and the involved parties are finally close to reaching an agreement.
Illumination has established itself as one of the most successful animation studios in Hollywood in recent years with a string of hits that includes the Despicable Me and Minions films, as well as Sing and The Secret Life of Pets. The deal with Nintendo follows last year’s agreement between Universal and the game studio to have attractions based on Nintendo properties added to Universal’s theme parks.
After decades of keeping their characters off of the big screen following the failure of 1993’s live-action Super Mario Brothers — which cast Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as heroic plumber brothers Mario and Luigi, respectively — Nintendo has relaxed its grip on its most famous heroes and villains in recent years. Super Mario Bros. villain Bowser was one of several Nintendo characters to make an appearance in Disney’s 2012 animated feature Wreck-It Ralph, and several characters later appeared in the live-action comedy Pixels that hit theaters in 2015.
If the deal does go through, Super Mario Bros. creator Shigeru Miyamoto will reportedly be a producer on the film and have input on development along with Illumination’s creative team. The report indicates that the deal is not finalized at this point, so the scope of Nintendo’s involvement is not confirmed.
Given Super Mario Bros.’ status as the best-selling game franchise of all time, it’s understandable why all of the companies involved would want to give it another try on the big screen. The most recent installment of the Super Mario Bros. game franchise, Super Mario Odyssey, was released in October 2017 and sold more than 2 million copies worldwide in the first three days it was available.