max landis super mario script

“This script sucks.” Those three words are emblazoned across a new file screenwriter Max Landis has uploaded to his website. It’s a 436 page script for a movie version of Super Mario World. Yes, the first Super Nintendo entry in the Super Mario Bros. series. Landis uploaded the script as a joke. Just to make sure we’re all in on it, he wrote a few pages of preamble explaining himself.

In those first few pages, Landis explains he wrote the script at 19 and admits “this script sucks” for a ton of reasons. Most scripts equate to a minute per page. Who was going to make a seven hour Super Mario Bros. movie? Not Nintendo. They tried and failed to make a much shorter version in 1993. Landis was 8 at the time so he was very aware of that film.

Still the aspiring screenwriter pressed on and wrote a script where he made cardinal mistakes like describing every beat of every action scene, introducing too many tangential characters and typing out long sections of songs into the screenplay.

Basically, this was an epic time wasting exercise by a talented, possibly crazy, 19-year-old kid figuring out screenwriting. But at least he was writing…and writing…and writing. Below, check out the Max Landis Super Mario script and even see some concept art Landis had drawn for the film.

You can download and read (if you dare) the Max Landis Super Mario script, via maxlandiswrites.com.

If you are curious, but don’t feel like clicking, here is just the first HALF of the first PAGE of the script. Also – Final Draft formatting doesn’t transfer to WordPress too well, but, you’ll get the idea:

EPIGRAPH: “What if something appears that shouldn’t? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you’ll find many unexpected things.” – Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario.

LUIGI (V.O.) – This is the story of my brother, the greatest hero of a world you will never see.

The sound of distant thunder. LIGHTNING FLASH INTO:

EXT. CRAMPTON, NEW JERSEY – THE WOODS – AFTERNOON Caption – March, 1988

The New Jersey Pine Barrens; everything is gray, brown and green, with Pine trees reaching up towards the sky. Three kids runs through the woods; two grade school age, and one a little older, maybe in Junior high. The youngest is a girl with flowing strawberry-blond hair and large blue eyes. Her name is Patricia, but everyone calls her PEACH. She’s well out in front of the others, laughing and screaming.

YOUNG PEACH: You guys are never gonna catch me

I’m not gonna republish the whole thing here, but even in that super short example you get the serious tone of this thing.

Landis also got an artist named Darren Calvert to do some concept art for the film. Now this art is awesome as art, but it’s the subtext that makes it even more interesting. First of all, it goes to Landis’ point of going way too deep into Mario lore and introducing too many characters. Why is Diddy Kong in this movie? Second, all of the iconic Mario characters – the Koopa Troopers, Goombas, etc – look like something out of a horror movie. Shouldn’t a Mario movie be for kids? Either way, here’s an embed of Calvert’s art.

And again, if you’d like to download the script or read more, head over to Landis’ site here.

Going big picture with this for a second, the idea this happened at all is impressive. Screenwriters always get asked for advice on how to break into the business. One possible answer might be, “Sit down and finish a terrible 436 page screenplay that’ll never get made.” No matter how good or bad the script is, it got finished, was creative and showed a drive towards something. How many wannabe screenwriters sit down to write a script and never finish one?

I think, for me, that’s the biggest takeaway here. It’s really funny that this script is out there, that Landis posted it, and is so good natured and honest about it. But above all, it’s a great example for aspiring writers that failure is part of success and hard work brings good things.

What good thing do you ask? Well, you’ll be able to see at least three new Max Landis movies in 2015. Thankfully, none of them are Nintendo related.

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