- Deseret News - Friday, September 11, 2015

The memory of Nintendo’s last big foray into feature films is something that still haunts gamers and movie lovers alike. “Super Mario Bros.” (1993) remains one of the most fascinating trainwrecks in film history. Arriving in theaters just two weeks before Steven Spielberg once again revolutionized the summer blockbuster with “Jurassic Park,” it suffered from a now legendarily troubled production that saw the colorful video game world of Mushroom Kingdom evolve over multiple rewrites into a baffling “Mad Max”-inspired dystopia ruled by a scenery-chewing Dennis Hopper.

Its star, the prolific British actor Bob Hoskins — better known for his work in movies such as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “Hook” — later named it as the worst film he ever made, according to IMDB.com.

One of its two directors, Rocky Morton, wasn’t any more positive, telling Nintendo Life that his abiding memory from the shoot was “humiliation.”

Understandably, in the 22 years since, Nintendo has been extremely protective of its properties.

Rumors of Nintendo franchises getting live-action movies have popped up at various points, including a John Woo-directed Metroid adaptation that came close to actually happening. But for better or worse, nothing has materialized.

That could all be changing, though.

In a June earnings report (via Nerdist), the company wrote, “For Nintendo IP, a more active approach will be taken in areas outside the video game business, including visual content production and character merchandising.”

In case “visual content production” allowed too much room for interpretation, things were later spelled out by none other than Nintendo’s longtime creative mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto. Speaking with Fortune at E3 in June, Miyamoto said, “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?’ Because games and movies seem like similar mediums, people’s natural expectation is we want to take our games and turn them into movies. … I’ve always felt video games, being an interactive medium, and movies, being a passive medium, mean the two are quite different.”

Miyamoto continued, however, saying, “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.”

As Fortune points out, though, the good news for fans is that Miyamoto himself will oversee any future plans for movies. As part of Nintendo’s Software Planning and Development Division, the creator of franchises such as Donkey Kong, Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and Pikmin, among others, will play gatekeeper, hopefully preventing Hollywood from completely plundering Nintendo’s beloved back catalogue of properties.

This leaves the question: What kinds of movies will Nintendo make and/or allow to be made?

Earlier this year, a rumor circulated that Nintendo was teaming up with Netflix for a live-action Zelda series described as being along the lines of “Game of Thrones” for families. Then-president of Nintendo Satoru Iwata (who died in July) put the kibosh on that one, however, telling Time, “As of now, I have nothing new to share with you in regard to the use of our IPs for any TV shows or films, but I can at least confirm that the article in question is not based on correct information.”

While the fan base is certainly there for a Zelda series, the risk of failure is probably too high for Nintendo to risk tarnishing one of its crown jewels right off the bat. A more likely option might be one of Nintendo’s lesser-known titles.

Miyamoto, for instance, recently tried his hand at directing with a series of short movies based on his own Pikmin series. Although only three of the shorts have been released so far for public viewing, according to IGN, between 20 and 30 have been made. These could possibly be turned into an animated series.

Another option might be something like the Fire Emblem games, which mix “Game of Thrones”-esque political fantasy with other elements, including time travel.

Or why not an animated action-comedy based on Nintendo’s newest IP, “Splatoon”?

Whatever Nintendo’s plans turn out to be — and fans probably won’t find out anything concrete for a little while still — having Miyamoto in charge should at least prevent another “Super Mario Bros.”-level disaster. With any luck, Nintendo’s careful approach to how its properties are used could actually wind up breaking the video game movie curse that has plagued every other adaptation so far.

Only time will tell.

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