It looks like the Mario Bros. are coming to the big screen after all. In a new report posted by The Wall Street Journal (via Kotaku), Nintendo is in early talks with Illumination and Universal Pictures to bring the Mario Bros. to the big screen for an animated feature.
This isn’t that surprising of a decision on the part of Nintendo. Illumination is the studio behind Despicable Me, which brought up the Minions craze. That sort of multi-level marketing is exactly what Nintendo has been looking for for years. They had the plush and toy market with Pokémon, but Minions rose to a whole new level that no one really expected. They were everywhere, and Despicable Me 3 has kept the train rolling. It is one of the biggest movies of the year, and the merchandise for the Minions themselves continues to sell like hot cakes.
Nintendo has only made one other feature based off of its main franchise, a live-action adaptation back in 1993. It was a legendary dud and very poorly received by both fans and non-fans. It seemed Nintendo was hesitant to let their characters appear in movies again, but they did allow some of their IP to appear in the abysmal Pixels — so maybe they aren’t as closely guarded as we thought.
As Kotaku notes, just because this is being reported in the Wall Street Journal doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Back in February 2015, one of the authors of this piece, Ben Fritz, reported that Netflix and Nintendo were in talks to make a Legend of Zelda series. That never happened — but that doesn’t mean this won’t, either. The pairing of the studios makes sense in a purely business sense. As for bringing a beloved character to life on the big screen in a way that could please fans? That’s up for debate.