Undeterred by the underwhelming history of video game movie adaptations, Illumination Entertainment—the studio behind the Despicable Me series—is nearing a deal with Nintendo to make a feature-length animated Mario movie, The Wall Street Journal reports. The studio has reportedly been negotiating with Nintendo for nearly a year, with Nintendo demanding heavy involvement in the creative process and a producer role for Super Mario Bros. visionary Shigeru Miyamoto.
If the deal is finalized and production moves forward, it’ll be Nintendo’s first major feature-length film in more than two decades. Their last Hollywood foray was the 1993 cinematic dumpster fire Super Mario Bros.—the company has been notoriously protective of its franchises since, with reports of a live-action Legend of Zelda series on Netflix never coming to pass, and talks of a whole slate of Nintendo animated movies not yet materializing into more. Mario is IP that’s ripe for adaptation, though, and an animated movie marketed to younger audiences feels like a shoo-in for global commercial success—just look at the Lego Movie franchise, which has pulled in nearly $500 million over three films, with more on the way.
The Journal reports that Nintendo and Illumination are planning to make only one film, but it’s easy to imagine that the deal could plant seeds for a full-fledged animated franchise. (Again, this is the studio that has made three Despicable Me films and a Minions spinoff, with a sequel on deck for 2020—these people know how to milk things.) Whether or not that means Mario will be the first good video game movie is up in the air. All I can say is it would probably be in Illumination’s best interest not to turn Mario’s world into a gritty, dystopian hellscape.