Shigeru Miyamoto Explains Why Nintendo Is Making a Mario Movie

Talks started two years ago

Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto says that he's been working with and talking to producer Chris Meledandri about the Super Mario movie for two years, but didn't want to announce the project until they were far enough along. He hopes more details on the movie will be coming soon.

"We've talked together and share the feeling that if we can't make something interesting we'll just call it quits," Miyamoto told a group of analysts during a recent Nintendo policy briefing. "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."

Last week, Nintendo and the animation studio behind such hits as Sing and Despicable Me, announced they are co-producing an animated movie starring "Super Mario."

The unnamed project will be led by Illumination Entertainment founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and Miyamoto. The film will be co-financed by Universal Pictures and Nintendo and distributed theatrically worldwide by Universal Pictures. 

During the recent meeting with analysts, one asked Miyamoto about the objective of the animated movie. Was it a "cross-media marketing effect, or do you want to try making a movie to express something you cannot express in games?

Miyamoto told the gather that he's 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."

With that in mind, Miyamoto says he started talking with all sorts of different movie directors and producers. Eventually he was introduced to Illumination, and its CEO Meledandri, through the work Universal and Nintendo are doing on theme park attractions.

"As a producer, Chris Meledandri (Illumination's CEO) 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," Miyamoto says. "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."

Miyamoto's long-time interest in making movies included some pet projects he's done at Nintendo internally.

In 2013, Miyamoto told me he was interested in animated movies, even working on some ideas 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."