Get out your mushrooms and warp zones ready, Super Mario Bros. is coming back to theaters. Unlike the 1993 live-action version, this new release will be an animated adventure. Nintendo is partnering up with Illumination, the team that brought you the “Despicable Me” and “Minions” franchises, to develop an animated film based on the immersive world of Super Mario Bros. Illumination was founded by Academy Award nominee Chris Meledandri in 2007, and the company’s franchises include two of the top-four animated films of all time. The brands that Illumination have brought to the screen have grossed more than $5.7 billion worldwide, which is a lot of Mario coins.
Illumination was recently honored by Fast Company as one of the world’s most innovative companies, and the studio has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures. “Despicable Me” recently became the top-grossing box-office animated franchise globally, and “Minions” is the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time (as well as the most profitable film in Universal’s history). Illumination’s upcoming films include “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” in November 2018, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” in June 2019, “Minions 2” in July 2020, and “Sing 2” in December 2020.
The project will be produced by Chris Meledandri, Founder and CEO of Illumination, and Shigeru Miyamoto, Representative Director, Fellow of Nintendo. The project will be co-financed by Universal Pictures and Nintendo, and distributed theatrically worldwide by Universal.
Older readers will probably remember the first “Super Mario Bros.” movie that we mentioned earlier. The film debuted in fourth-place overall in 1993, and was directed by Roland Joffe. Starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, and Samantha Mathis, the film had very little to do with the actual game it was based on. The movie followed the plumbers to an alternate reality, where dinosaurs became the dominant species, and the film was not well received. Depsite being a Nintendo-based game, the film was only released domestically, and after the film’s $8.5M opening, only grossed $21M in theaters. To put that in perspective, the movie’s estimated budget was $48 million at the time.
The bar is set pretty low for “Super Mario Bros.” at this point, but Illumination has proven to be one of the best studios out there for brands. Nintendo is also releasing a “Detective Pikachu” movie this year, based on the iconic Pokemon franchise, and it already has an impressive cast behind it.