Mario: The Ups and Downs of His Big Screen Career
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Nintendo has always been seen as a traditionalist among video gaming console makers that, at the same time, was not afraid to innovate. On one hand, it has continued to build its fame on the back of some well-known characters like Mario (Mario Mario, the brother of the fellow plumber and video game star Luigi Mario). On the other, the Japanese company never fails to renew its gaming experience, offering its fans the most successful portable consoles ever created or even going back to basics with Nintendo Labo. Still, Mario remains its signature character that never goes out of style. The list of video games featuring the sympathetic Italian plumber with a signature mustache is insanely long, spanning more than three decades. But Mario isn't confined to the world of video games. He has made several forays into the world of movies and TV, too. Some of them, like his animated series, was well-received by the audiences. Others, like the infamous feature film adaptation of the story, were not. And the time has come for Mario to return to the world of feature films - this time, without taking any risks, in an animated format.

Illumination Entertainment is an American film and animation studio founded in 2007 by Chris Meledandri, an industry veteran with big names like Disney and Fox (soon to be the same company) on his resume. While at Disney, he served as an executive producer for Cool Runnings, a sports comedy following the misadventures of Jamaica's famous bobsled team, while at Fox, he was responsible for titles like Ice Age, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who. Illumination, the studio he co-formed with Universal Pictures, has given the world animated features like the Despicable Me series, the film version of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, and now prepares to launch a new take on The Grinch. And after that, the studio will start working on a project that will most likely be well-received by Mario fans around the world: an animated feature based on the popular character.

“We are keeping him [Mario] front and center in the creation of this film… I’ve rarely seen that happen with any adaptation where the original creative voice is being embraced like we’re embracing Miyamoto," Meledandri told the press. "There’s a history in Hollywood of people believing that they know better than the people responsible for a property. I’ve made that mistake before.”

The "mistake" he might be talking about, in this context at least, is the live-action Super Mario movie released in 1993. Directed by Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton based on a screenplay by Parker Bennett and Terry Runte, the movie told the story of two plumbers - the Mario brothers, played by Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo - traveling to a parallel dimension to rescue Princess Daisy from King Koopa (the amazing Dennis Hopper), a ruthless reptilian villain with plans to take over the world. The movie could've been decent without involving the fan-favorite video game character (there's an acceptable cyberpunk B-movie hidden in there somewhere) but the association with the Mario brothers turned it into a massive and utter failure.

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