The animation studio behind such hits as Sing and Despicable Me have signed up to co-produce an animated movie starring "Super Mario," Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima told investors today.
The still-unnamed project will be led by Illumination Entertainment founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and Mario-creator Shigeru Miyamoto, representative director and Fellow of Nintendo. The film will be co-financed by Universal Pictures and Nintendo and distributed theatrically worldwide by Universal Pictures. "As a part of our effort to expand Nintendo IP beyond video games, we look forward to bringing smiles to people around the world through this movie," Kimishima said. Further details are expected in the future.
While Nintendo did provide the rights to the infamously bad 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, it wasn't involved in the film's creation. Despite how resoundingly bad that movie was, Miyamoto has been tinkering around with the idea of animated movies based on Nintendo characters for some time.
In 2013, Miyamoto told me he was interested in animated movies, even working on some pet projects involving Pikmin. But at the time he didn't want to license out the characters to another company. "I didn't want to license our characters out to someone else to create films," he said at the time. "Instead, since I used to draw four-panel comics when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to bring a four-panel comic approach to creating video content, so we started work on these Pikmin videos."
He said at the time that the company hasn't decided if they'll expand their foray into cartoons by creating series for other Nintendo characters.
Miyamoto's involvement in this project seems to fit in with a grander, broader vision of those early 2013 tests. And while it will likely take up some of his time working with games, he told me back in 2013 that he absolutely wouldn't let it take him completely away from game creation.
The project is also neatly in line with Nintendo's continued push to expand beyond the borders of video games with its cast of characters. Last year saw the release of a line of shirts through UNIQLO, a cereal with Kellogg's and theme songs from some of their main games, to name a few.