Mario and Luigi may be heading to the big screen as Illumination Entertainment nears an agreement with Nintendo to translate the duo from video game stars to Hollywood leading men.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Illumination has been in talks with the video game company for over a year about the prospect of an animated feature film. Illumination Entertainment is the animation arm of Universal Pictures, so a potential deal would follow an agreement with Nintendo and Universal's theme parks made two years ago to build attractions based on Nintendo's characters, including Mario.
An agreement could allow for multiple movies based on the Super Mario Bros. franchise, Nintendo's most successful video game series, but only one film is currently planned. The film would be animated by Illumination’s Paris studio Mac Guff, and is still in the early stages of development.
Sources told The Wall Street Journal that one potential hangup on the deal would be convincing Nintendo executives that they have creative control over the project. Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the Mario series, has been involved in the talks and is likely to serve as a producer on the film alongside Illumination's chief executive Chris Meledandri.
Nintendo's last major attempt to adapt the Mario franchise to film ended in the commercial and critical failure of Super Mario Bros. in 1993. Since then, the company has mainly focused on animated movies based on the Pokemon franchise. The film industry has yet to find success in adapting video games to the screen, but perhaps animation could be the way to go.