Nintendo are well known for retelling the stories of their games. Three of the electronic entertainment company’s main players; Mario, Link, and Samus Aran, have retrodden the paths of their respective titles over and over – be it saving the princess, saving the kingdom, or blowing up giant aliens in a mech-suit. The games work in a similar way to fairy tales; certain familiar elements of character and narrative remain static, whilst others are altered to maintain cultural relevance with a contemporary audience. However, with a line-up of such recognisable adventures, it is somewhat of a mystery why Nintendo have not taken any of their iconic heroes to the big screen?
The answer seems to lie with Nintendo‘s film history. The 1993 film, Super Mario Bros., was the company’s first and last venture into feature film. Starring John Leguizamo and the late Bob Hoskins, the title was a critical and commercial flop, and seemed to set precedent for the avalanche of video game adaptations that followed – say what you will about the film, as the first of its kind, it was by definition an experiment.
Since this initial foray into the world of film, Nintendo have released a few short-lived animated shows, preferring to focus on their continuing line-up of innovative games. This year saw Donkey Kong appear in the dismal Adam Sandler vehicle, Pixels, whilst Bowser had a brief cameo in Walt Disney Pictures’ Wreck-It Ralph in 2012.
However, in a recent interview with Fortune, Shigeru Miyamoto, head of Nintendo’s Software Planning and Development Division (SPD) has spilled hints that the company may be ready to tack the silver screen once again. In response to recent explorations into film, Miyamoto had this to say: “For Nintendo IP, a more active approach will be taken in areas outside the video game business, including visual content production and character merchandising”.
The seemingly innocuous comment was complimented by Miyamoto‘s follow-up: “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“. This looks like a fairly definitive confirmation that Nintendo will be looking to expand into feature film in the future. While at the moment, no projects are in development, it seems we won’t have to wait too long to see our favourite childhood heroes on the big screen. Let’s hope they start with someone other than the plumbers this time…