After the colossal awfulness that was 1993’s Super Mario Bros., Nintendo became more than a little gun-shy about licensing its games for the big screen. But it looks like the tide might finally be turning — so here’s a good place for the videogame giant to start.
While speaking to Fortune, legendary Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the company is actually looking to expand its portfolio back into film once again. For a company that’s avoided the medium for so long, it’s a change that could hopefully lead to some awesome stories and a massive new revenue stream for Nintendo. So, hopefully, a win-win.
Here’s an excerpt from Miyamoto’s comments, where he confirms they’ve actually been turning down film deals for decades:
“We’ve had, over the years, a number of people who have come to us and said 'Why don’t we make a movie together—or we make a movie and you make a game and we’ll release them at the same time?’ I’ve always felt video games, being an interactive medium, and movies, being a passive medium, mean the two are quite different. As we look more broadly at what is Nintendo’s role as an entertainment company, we’re starting to think more and more about how movies can fit in with that—and we’ll potentially be looking at things like movies in the future.”
Since the company is apparently open to answering the calls from Hollywood now, we’ve dug through the Nintendo catalog and cherry-picked a few highlights that should definitely be at the top of the development deal list. From PG-13 action flicks to kid-friendly fun, Nintendo has a surprisingly deep bench of characters that would fit in perfectly on the big screen. Admittedly, videogame adaptations are notoriously hard to make not suck, but hopefully Nintendo would’ve learned from its past mistakes and bring some serious quality control to the table.
We’ll go ahead and get the obvious one out of the way first. Mario is easily one of the biggest videogame characters — or pop-culture characters, for that matter — on the planet. If Nintendo could team up with a studio capable of making a halfway decent movie, they could practically print money with this one. There’s also a ton of lore to mine for a plot: They could take us to the world of Paper Mario, or introduce Wario as a baddie, or just go the classic “Bowser causes trouble” route. We’d recommend making a kid-friendly CGI film for this one. Stay as far away as possible from live action. Keep Mario and Luigi front and center, but be sure to capitalize on the beloved supporting characters, too.
Legend of Zelda
It’s worth noting it's been reported that Nintendo is already in early talks with Netflix to turn this beloved RPG into a television series, and if that pans out, it could be stellar. But if the company doesn’t work out a deal with Netflix, Zelda would be perfectly at home on the big screen. As far as tone, aim for something family-friendly, and try to hit that fantasy sweet spot between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. As for a plot? One only has to look to the games, which have cranked out decades of creative, story-driven sequels over the past few decades. The games are also filled with some gorgeous visual moments, which should translate very well to live action. With the right approach, this could be the next big fantasy trilogy.
Though kid-friendly stuff like Mario might be the first franchises that come to mind, Nintendo is also sitting on some ambitious sci-fi properties. One of the most visually impressive? The future racer F-Zero, which has been around since the SNES days. This would obviously require a decent budget to pull off, but if you can build a billion-dollar franchise around Fast and the Furious, why not F-Zero? Like the game, the movie could be set in the future and follow the wild, dark and dangerous world of F-Zero racing. Throw in a bit of evil corporate conspiracy to tie the racing set pieces together, and you could make one solid sci-fi flick.
This would be a bit harder to pull off, but if they could land the tone, Star Fox could be a massively successful kids' movie franchise. I'm thinking: an epic, CGI sci-fi tale featuring the animal heroes we know and love from the series. Maybe something along the lines of Star Wars, but for kids. The cast is perfect for swashbuckling action, and the animals make it fun for kids. This might be the closest Nintendo could come to capturing that swagger Sega is showing off with the surprisingly entertaining Cartoon Network series Sonic Boom. If they embrace the inherent silliness, but still play it semi-serious, this could really work.
An obvious choice, sure, but like Mario, it’s just about guaranteed to be a hit if they can get it right. Though the ensemble doesn’t get as much attention as DK himself in the games, this franchise still has a solid supporting cast that could be rounded out to fill in the narrative gaps. Create something with a kiddie attitude but vine-swinging fun a la Tarzan, and you’d have a separate kiddie franchise that sets itself apart from something a bit more obvious like Mario. If Nintendo can land some hits from the tried-and-true brands (i.e. Donkey Kong and Mario), then it might open the door for some projects that are a bit more adventurous. Like ...
This has been begging for a big-screen adaptation ever since Samus started kicking butt back on the NES. For this one, we’re thinking aim for a PG-13 adaptation that has enough wiggle room for some real scares and action — but not something so outside the box it leaves behind the Nintendo brand. Combining the look and feel of Alien with the wild action of the game itself, this could be a monster hit sci-fi franchise. Plus, Hollywood is starved for female heroes, and Samus is one of the best (I’m thinking Emily Blunt, fresh off Edge of Tomorrow). Make this happen, Nintendo. The world needs it.