illumination_mario illumination_mario
Feature Film

Minions Maker Illumination Is Working On A Mario Bros. Feature

Universal’s Illumination Entertainment, makers of the Despicable Me franchise, is nearing an agreement with Nintendo to make a Super Mario Bros. animated feature, the Wall Street Journal, reported today.

The last time Mario, Luigi, and Princess Daisy appeared on the bigscreen was the 1993 live-ation bomb Super Mario Bros. released by Walt Disney Studios-Hollywood Pictures. Nintendo has been hesitant ever since to return the Italian plumbers back to cinemas, but a team-up with Illumination, the most consistently successful animation studio at the box office in recent years, seems like a sound bet.

Illumination and Nintendo have been ironing out details of the film deal for over a year. Anonymous sources told WSJ that the discussions have been challenging due to Nintendo’s concerns over creative input:

The most complicated issue in the negotiations between Illumination and Nintendo has been making the Japanese videogame company feel confident it will be involved enough in the creative process, said one person close to the talks. Nintendo’s creative guru, Shigeru Miyamoto, who created Mario Bros., has been part of the talks and likely will be a producer on the movie, along with [Illumination head] Mr. [Chris] Meledandri, this person said.

The deal would leave open the possibility for sequels, if both parties are pleased with the results of the first film. Illumination Macguff in Paris would handle the production, as it has for all of the studio’s other films.

There’s corporate synergy at play here, too. Another Comcast-NBCUniversal subsidiary, Universal Parks & Resorts, made a deal with Nintendo two years ago to bring Mario and Luigi attractions to its Universal Studios theme parks.

Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 is the top-grossing animated feature globally this year. Its next release, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, is coming up in November 2018.

  • Timmy

    Illumination movies are about as mediocre as they come, but boy do they know how to market. Either way, I hope the Mario films are good! But I’ve found that there’s a reason video games never work well as movies… and that’s why they’re video games in the first place.

    • Dave 52

      It more so has to do with the people behind the movie rather than the concept of the movie itself.

  • Cameron Iacono

    Only art department please and not writing.

  • Ryan Cullen

    My only question is will they use the voices from the Nintendo games for the characters? I actually would kind of like that, rather than a bunch of names above the title. But, I’m sure if it’s Illumination, they’ll go with the names.

    There was a Super Mario Bros. animated movie made in Japan back in the mid-80s. It’s pretty rare (I don’t think it’s ever been released on DVD), but you can watch it on Youtube with English subtitles. It’s certainly not great, but it’s a fun little movie.

    • It’s Illumination. They’ll cram more celebrities in their film than an Oscar’s after party.

      • GOATmaybe

        Yeah I don’t know if they’d ever even think of just going with Charles Martinet which saddens me to no end.

        • Barrett

          If they don’t, that would suck donkey balls. As long as Charles Martinet is still a working voice actor, he kind of *needs* to be Mario. The only possible argument I could see against him being used for Mario & Luigi is that he’s not really known as an established voice actor for much outside of Nintendo properties, and this is a 90 minute length film, not a game with what probably amounts to at most 5-6 minutes of dialogue. He may not be up to that kind of performance.

  • Tre

    Mario and Luigi walking through the sewer seeking Bowser’s hideout and suddenly there’s a glowing light up ahead.
    Mario: Hello? It’s-a me! Mario!
    As they get closer, they realise the creature itself is the source of the light.
    Luigi: What is it?
    He gazed at it’s one blinking eye.
    Minion: Bello!

  • Mike

    I feel like the number one factor in making an enjoyable CG Mario film will be good, cartoony animation. While my top pick would probably be Sony Pictures (I never thought I’d enjoy Angry Birds nearly as much as I did, and the animation was a substantial part of that) I think Illumination is a good pick for getting that right too.

    • Dave 52

      I enjoyed Angry Birds a lot as well. It’s arguably the best video game movie we have. Although, that isn’t saying much.

    • KW

      Nintendo working with Sony on something? Hell will have to freeze over before that happens.

      • Barrett

        Good point. I think those of us who are thinking of the studios based on their animated output without considering the corporate rivalries of their owners easily forget such factors.
        I just hope that this doesn’t at all interfere with Mario making at least a cameo of some kind in Wreck-It Ralph 2. His absence was a big thorn in a lot of fans’ sides, and they allegedly had worked out something with Nintendo to give him some screen time in the sequel.

  • Andres Molina

    As I will put it straight for all… video games movies aren’t bad because of the fact that these movies are based on video games. Like books and comics, video games are ultimately another source material. What makes video game movies bad are the people involved in the film. Either from not understanding the source material, or simply not putting enough effort. That being said, I think Mario being an animated film has all the makings of a incredible project. Now as far as the people involved are concerned, I really don’t know what to say about Mario being negotiated with Illumination. So for me, this Mario film is a wild card.

  • Kyle_Maloney

    I was hoping blue sky would be the one to do this if it ever happened. But I guess we’ll see if they can pull it off.

  • Anonymous

    There was a story yesterday about Apu being a racial stereotype. Time to do the same for Mario and Luigi.

  • Dave 52

    I have a love/hate relationship with Illumination. On one hand, I think the original Despicable Me is still a pretty solid animated comedy. On the other hand, they haven’t made a film I could call “good” in a while. All their other films range from mediocre to just terrible. However, I felt a surge of joy when I heard this announcement. I feel you can do a lot of great things with a Mario movie from both a comedy and visual perspective and fully embrace the wackiness of the concept in animation. This could be as fun and energized as something like the original Despicable Me, or Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, or The SpongeBob Movies, or even Captain Underpants. And, when you really think about it, Illumination does do certain things in their films that could work well in a Mario film. Especially when it comes to cartoony antics and physical comedy, which is especially something a Mario feature can do and use it to it’s advantage. I just hope that Nintendo pushes Illumination to get a good team to make this film and make it something above their regular offerings. They have a property that has the making for what could be a wildly creative and hilarious film and it would be terrible to see what could be something great be lost just because Illumination doesn’t want to try.

  • WanderPony

    Lemme guess, the goombas are gonna talk in sped-up gibberish Minion voices?

    • Barrett

      Oh God, don’t give them ideas….

  • Hubert Lamontagne

    As long as Mario doesn’t end up in New York or California like all those other Hollywood adaptations (looking at you, Smurfs).

  • Only pain will come from this.

    • Dave 52

      Or we could get something of actual quality.

      • Probably not the good kind of quality, though.

        • Dave 52

          Well, you never know. The first Despicable Me film still is a pretty good animated comedy and even Secret Life of Pets is, at best, the equivalent of an okay Looney Tunes cartoon. If Nintendo really pushes Illumination then we could have something good here. I’m not looking for something like Pixar out of a Mario movie anyway.

  • mash potato

    Anyone casting serious doubt, allow me to calm your fears a little:

    At least it’s not helmed by Uwe Boll.

  • Well, I guess we know what the plot’s gonna be: Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser and Mario’s gotta save her, with the help of his old friends Toad, Yoshi and brother Luigi! Bazinga! Still though, I think this will be great, I don’t like Despicable Me but reckon the IP’s in good hands, they’ll do something great with it. Generally I’ve disliked video game show / movie adaptations in the past (sometimes the spin-offs derived little resemblance to the original IP) but because Mario’s 3D game graphics cutscenes are getting more cinematic and approaching ‘movie-like’ qualities, there won’t be such a disconnect between the game and movie, a lot more overlap. Looking forward to it. And then of course we’ll get the game based on the movie. Kiff.

  • Strong Enough

    who the heck would even do their voices? would they go for hollywood stars or lesser unknowns to fit the right voice? Mario isn’t even known for talking.

    If i was them i’d take a chance and make Mario dialogue free with the exception of the colorful characters he meets along the way.

  • This will not only be a $1 billion dollar box office hit, this just might give Illumination an actual presence to the general public, and a start where people will focus on them more than Pixar.

    • ???

      Huh? They’ve already had multiple movies make over a billion dollars, and they definitely have a presence already.

      • I said a presence to the general public. People may remember their trademark of the Minions, but how often do people say the name of the company that make the Minions? General people who don’t follow animation much recognize Pixar and Disney by name, not just the movies they have created. Not many say Illumination as much, but it will change for sure.

        • Barrett

          If they don’t know the “Illumination” brand by now, a Mario Bros. movie is NOT the one to do it. Most people will probably assume Nintendo made it themselves.

  • James Wiseman

    Should I mention that there was another animated Mario movie made in the late 80’s? I think I should.

    Info on it, with pictures of posters and animation cels:

  • TalonsofIceandFire

    Hmm… this could have potential. The Angry Birds movies (while just okay) was one of the better video game adaptations so I wouldn’t mind seeing more video game computer animated movies coming out in the future. Though I really wish Nintendo wouldn’t be so reluctant to give the Pokemon franchise the chance to be produced by a western animation company.

  • Mairead Malesco

    I would be willing to pay extra if they make Princess Peach the film’s main villain!

  • That Guy

    My big question is: what kind of voice acting will this movie have? I doubt the film is going to go with a voiceless Mario and Luigi. And if that happens, what will that mean for the games? When you see Mario speaking, and then go back to the games to just see him grunting and screaming, you can’t look at it the same way.

  • JC

    As soon as I saw Illumination, I immediately got a little worried. PLEASE tell me Nintendo is bringing some kind of script and guidelines to the table and Illumination is only here for art and animation.I just want this movie to be good guys.

  • Mikael Wind Benitez

    So excited for this upcoming reboot! Illumination is the best fit for Mario!!!