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SYFY WIRE super mario bros. movie

‘Mario’ creator explains why Nintendo has been so reluctant to adapt its games for the big screen

One tour through Dinohattan was all it took to put the biggest video game company off Hollywood for three decades.

By Josh Weiss
Super Mario Brothers The Movie: Everything You Didn't Know

Beyond allowing a few of their characters to make small guest appearances in movies like Disney's Wreck-it-Ralph and Adam Sandler's Pixels, Nintendo has famously avoided Hollywood like the plague. Why? One word: Dinohattan. Okay, now let's make it a few more words: the very strange live-action Super Mario Bros. from 1993, which seriously turned the company off on the idea of adapting its golden goose video game offerings into blockbuster movies for a total of three whole decades.

During a recent interview with Variety, Mario's creator Shigeru Miyamoto (he also gave the world Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Pikmin) briefly discussed the '93 film, chalking its colossal failure up to a creative disconnect between Nintendo and the producers. Due to the fact that the company was merely licensing out the Super Mario brand, it had no input whatsoever on the direction of the adaption, which saw Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo stepping into the overalls of the eponymous plumbers.

RELATED: Keegan-Michael Key's secret to his Toad voice in the 'Mario' movie? 'Earl Grey tea and really tight pants'

"We were fearful of all the failure of past IP adaptations, where there’s a license and a distance between the original creators and the creators of the films,” he said on the topic of why the company has skirted cinemas for so long. "The fans get outraged and mad because the studios didn’t do justice to the original work. We really didn’t want a backlash."

Rocky Morton, who co-directed the infamous dud alongside his wife Annabel Jankel (both of them described its harrowing production as a "suffering fest" that permanently marred their reputations) agreed with that sentiment. "If I’d have had a relationship with Miyamoto and brought him onboard, if he had been a producer and he understood what we were doing, he wouldn’t have let certain things happen,” the filmmaker added. "We would have been a team, and it would have been a different film."

Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom crew remained firmly in the realm of gaming until late 2017 when Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment struck a major deal to develop an animated project (now playing in theaters everywhere, by the way) based on the Nintendo icon. And this time, Miyamoto would oversee the proceedings as a hands-on producer, ready to both veto any questionable narrative choices and underscore the importance of capturing the spirit of the source material.

"The reason we were so resistant and careful to adapt our games into movies is because in video games there is always a player, who overcomes challenges and fights their way through,” Miyamoto continued during his chat with Variety. "Their struggle — redoing the levels over and over — is all part of it. "Just following the plot points of the video games will never work as a movie. Without the involvement of the player, it won’t meet expectations."

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are on sale here!

Want more Illumination goodness in your life? Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 are now streaming on Peacock.