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SYFY WIRE Features

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Composer Brian Tyler Wanted New Themes to Have "Built-In Nostalgia"

Brian Tyler had one overarching goal when it came to composing the score for The Super Mario Bros. Movie

By Josh Weiss
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) Trailer

Composer Brian Tyler's approach to The Super Mario Bros. Movie (now streaming on Peacock!) was a lot like the one applied by the oneiric infiltrators of Christopher Nolan's Inception. Chatting with SYFY WIRE, Tyler admits that his overall goal with scoring fresh music for Mario, Luigi, and the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom characters was to try and trick the audience into thinking they "almost knew it already."

"The majority of the music is new themes that are cinematic, but I wanted to write to feel like it was built-in nostalgia," he continues. "I wanted it ... to feel like you're at home."

Brian Tyler on Composing The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Tyler recalls a memorable anecdote from opening weekend when he visited a local theater to covertly watch the film alongside fellow fans. After it finished, Tyler stopped in the restroom "and heard someone started whistling it or something in the bathroom," he says.

RELATED: Super Mario Bros. Movie Composer Says Jack Black's “Peaches" Was Pretty Much Improvised on the Fly

"It kept going and other people in the bathroom joined in. And I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ They didn’t know that I was in there, but hearing the fact that these people left the theater and that’s what's on their brains. The theme I wrote. It’s really crazy and I almost wanted to ask, ‘Do you know that’s the new theme?’ I don’t think they were aware. The cool thing is that it got accepted as Mario."

However, the composer does admit he experienced the uncomfortable pangs of "imposter syndrome" near the start of the process as an American trying to live up to the legendary work of Koji Kondo. As a result, Tyler spent many sleepless nights (and days) pouring his heart and soul into the Super Mario Bros. music at the same time he was scoring another Universal Pictures production: Fast X.

"I was on a stretch of doing 20-hour days for like 70 weeks. I couldn't step away. People were like, ‘Go to bed, Brian! What are you doing?!’  My assistants would come in day after day. They’d go downstairs, they’d open the door, peek in and I’d be at my desk or keyboard or piano. And they're like, ‘You're wearing the same thing again. You didn't leave this chair since we were here yesterday at 6:00 p.m. and now it's 10:00 a.m. I don't think you moved out of that chair.’ And this [happened] dozens of times. So you only push yourself into that if you really believe in it, and you want to be there."

RELATED: How The Super Mario Bros. Movie Score Rediscovers Obscure Corners of Nintendo Music History

In the end, his fears of inadequacy proved to be wholly unfounded. "It’s just a cool whole circle of life thing where all the sudden, you realize, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m in the cool kids club with all the Nintendo people making Mario!’" Tyler concludes. "And [the fact that] my music was accepted by so many people, it made it really satisfying. It definitely brought a tear to my eye."

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now streaming on Peacock!