How bad was Super Mario Bros., Nintendo’s foray into the big screen starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper? It was so bad that it enjoys a 16 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it sent Nintendo bounding from Hollywood like it had just eaten a power-up mushroom. Now, decades later, Nintendo is reconsidering its moratorium on video game adaptations, according to Fortune.
Apparently Nintendo’s interest was piqued by the warm reception of Bowser’s cameo in Wreck-It Ralph, and possibly by the critical and commercial success of a movie that is unambiguously about video games. Unfortunately for Nintendo, they followed up that masterstroke of nostalgia by lending one of its biggest properties to Adam Sandler’s Pixels, a movie which also enjoys a 16 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Director Chris Columbus told Wired that it took “months and months of meeting with the board of Nintendo” to convince them that Donkey Kong would be treated respectfully in an Adam Sandler movie starring Kevin James as the President of the United States. (Although, to be fair, recent polling data does make that last bit of stunt casting seem less absurd.)
To make sure that any return to cinema don’t result in more schlocky crapfests bereft of the source material’s creative value, Nintendo is handing oversight of any film initiatives to Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator the Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Legend Of Zelda franchises. But he doesn’t sound too keen to make another movie like the original Super Mario Bros., a movie that Bob Hoskins said was the worst thing he ever did.
“Because games and movies seem like similar mediums, people’s natural expectation is we want to take our games and turn them into movies,” Miyamoto told Fortune. “I’ve always felt video games, being an interactive medium, and movies, being a passive medium, mean the two are quite different.” It’s a deceptively intuitive insight, but one that most filmmakers fail to acknowledge when trying to make video game movies, instead deluding themselves into thinking an impromptu FPS point-of-view sequence in the movie DOOM would be entertaining. Or that a movie adapted from DOOM would be entertaining.
Still, Miyamoto is not shutting the door on films completely. “As we look more broadly at what is Nintendo’s role as an entertainment company … we’ll potentially be looking at things like movies in the future,” Miyamoto said, perhaps implying that if Hollywood actually had a talented director lined up, a script worth shooting, and a pitch that didn’t involve the words “gritty reboot” or “Adam Sandler,” Nintendo might actually consider it.