Why Is Nintendo Teaming With Illumination For The Animated 'Super Mario Bros.' Movie?

Just last month we got confirmation that Nintendo was teaming with Illumination Entertainment to create an animated Super Mario Bros. movie. The studio behind movies like Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets seemed like an odd choice to bring the Nintendo video game character to the big screen again after all these years, but Nintendo's co-representative director Shigeru Miyamoto recently explained during an investors meeting why they went with the Universal based animation company.

Find out why the animated Mario movie is heading to Illumination Entertainment below.

Shigeru Miyamoto explained (in a translated statement via Bleeding Cool) how he first came to consider Illumination to make a Mario movie:

"I've been considering an animated film for many years now. There has long been talk that Nintendo could make a movie because 'making a game is like making a movie.' But they are completely different to me. Interactive experiences are completely different from non-interactive media, and to make a movie, I want a film expert to do the work. Thinking that way, I have talked with all sorts of different movie directors and producers, and eventually I was introduced to Illumination via Universal Parks & Resorts, with whom we are developing theme park attractions."

Remember that Universal Studios is in the midst of bringing a Super Mario World theme park to their Japan location, so Nintendo was already collaborating with the company, making it easier to branch out into feature film work. But it's not just as simple as synergy between the companies. Miyamoto continued:

"As a producer, [Illumination's CEO] Chris Meledandri is noted here for movies like Minions and Sing, but he is a veteran with a ton of experience, including the movie Ice Age and stints at companies like 20th Century Fox Animation. When I talked with Chris, he said he had read a lot of interviews with me and felt we had a similar approach to creation. Talking about our similarities, we clicked and decided maybe we should do some kind of collaboration. We started our conversation over two years ago, and finally reached the stage where we could make an announcement. Chris is extremely cost-conscious and time-conscious in his quest to make successful movies. We decided to try making a movie together, and distributing the completed movie globally through Universal Pictures."

There's No Guarantee It Will Happen

So it sounds like Miyamoto and the executives at Nintendo feel comfortable that Meledandri has the right vision and mind to bring Mario to life on the big screen in the right way. However, just because they've announced the project doesn't mean it will definitely go forward. Miyamoto also noted:

"We've talked together and share the feeling that if we can't make something interesting we'll just call it quits. But we've already met a number of times to hash out the screenplay, our talks together are progressing, and I hope to make an announcement once we've ironed out some things like the schedule."

There's no word on when this animated Mario movie might end up in theaters, but for now it's still in development. If all goes well, this could become a pillar of Universal's film slate, and could lead to more film adaptations of Nintendo's video games, whether they're animated or live-action. With the theme park developments already in the works, it sounds like Universal and Nintendo are starting a long, lucrative relationship, but we'll see how it goes.