Is Illumination Creating a Cinematic Universe for Nintendo with Super Mario?

With the blockbuster success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Nintendo is on the brink of establishing its animated cinematic universe.

The journey to The Super Mario Bros. Movie was challenging, especially considering the infamous 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. film. Nintendo, cautious after that debacle, hesitated to bring its iconic character back to the big screen. However, the animated film by Illumination has not only proven the viability of the Mario series in cinemas but has become a massive hit, despite initial skepticism surrounding Chris Pratt’s casting as Mario.

The success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie has sparked discussions about the future of Nintendo in filmmaking. Fans are not only anticipating a sequel but also speculating about Nintendo building an entire animated cinematic universe based on its popular games. While the film hints at potential directions for a sequel, enthusiasts believe Nintendo should expand beyond Mario and venture into creating a broader cinematic universe.

Update November 14, 2023: Sony Pictures’ announcement of developing a live-action Legend of Zelda movie has added a new dimension to the future of Nintendo movies.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s triumphant success has encouraged Nintendo, historically cautious about film adaptations, to consider broader cinematic endeavors. While only a few live-action Nintendo films, such as the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie and 2019’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu, have made it to theaters, the recent success of video game adaptations like Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat suggests a favorable climate for Nintendo’s grand cinematic entry.

Despite mixed critical reviews, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has received overwhelming support from audiences, reflected in a 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film’s global box office success, grossing $1.362 billion, positions it as the second-highest-grossing film of 2023. These achievements are enticing for Nintendo, prompting hopes for more cinematic outings.

Regarding the potential cinematic universe, The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s expansive Mario world offers a rich starting point. While speculation about additional Mario movies persists, fans eagerly anticipate Nintendo exploring its vast array of popular properties. A Donkey Kong film, directly tied to the Mario series, is a prime candidate for expansion.

Despite the absence of official announcements regarding The Super Mario Bros. Movie sequel or spin-offs, rumors circulate about projects like a Luigi Mansion spin-off or a Donkey Kong movie. However, Nintendo’s recent collaboration with Sony Pictures for a live-action Legend of Zelda film suggests an alternative approach. This development opens the door for Nintendo to partner with various studios for adaptations of different game franchises, including Kirby, Starfox, Metroid, F-Zero, and more.

While this diversified approach may diminish hopes for a unified cinematic universe akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans can anticipate unique interpretations of Nintendo franchises from different studios, creating a varied and expansive cinematic landscape. Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Discovery, Amazon Studios, AppleTV+, Netflix, and Disney are now potential players in bringing Nintendo’s diverse gaming universe to the big screen.

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