Nintendo Is Thinking About Making Movies Again
As teased earlier this year at E3 by Nintendo representative Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo is contemplating a return to making movies based on their classic video game properties. That sentiment has been echoed again now, as a close look at Nintendo’s upcoming plans reveals a vague idea for “visual content production.” You know, because this worked out so well last time.
Video game movies have never been good — one could make an argument for Silent Hill, which is pretty much the closest thing to a decent, straight adaptation of a video game, while Wreck-It Ralph is probably the best video game film ever made, even though it’s based on original characters and only features cameos from pre-existing ones.
But this doesn’t seem to scare off Nintendo, as making a good video game movie has become something of a dare. According to Fortune magazine, the company’s earning statements from June contain this vague line, which seems to re-confirm what Miyamoto said during E3:
For Nintendo IP, a more active approach will be taken in areas outside the video game business, including visual content production and character merchandising.
“Visual content” could mean TV shows, web series, or movies. It’s a fuzzy, non-committal statement, but given Miyamoto’s promise (threat?) and (quickly denied) rumors earlier this year about a Legend of Zelda series in development at Netflix, it seems we’re on the brink of Nintendo getting back into the movie business.
As you’ll unhappily recall, the last time Nintendo was involved in developing a movie, we got 1993's abominable Super Mario Bros. movie, starring the late, great Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, respectively. That film was hardly a fitting adaptation of the vibrant and fun world of Super Mario, but it did kick off a chain of video game movies, including Paul W.S. Anderson’s Mortal Kombat and his ongoing and weirdly successful Resident Evil franchise.
Along the way we’ve also gotten Tomb Raider movies, BloodRayne, a terrible Silent Hill sequel, and Prince of Persia — the latter of which was technically the most successful (and least-hated) of the bunch.
Nintendo has been a bit picky about their IP being used in other properties. Wreck-It Ralph was allowed a Bowser cameo, while Donkey Kong was featured in this summer’s Pixels (which is basically a thesis statement on why we shouldn’t make video game movies, ever), but Mario has been off-limits.
Miyamoto previously acknowledged that filmmakers tend to find it difficult to separate games from films when making the transition — just as you wouldn’t film a story the way you’d write a book and vice versa, filmmakers don’t seem to recognize the essential differences in the storytelling formats between games and movies. Miyamoto added, “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.”
Will we ever have a good video game movie? It’s still not out of the realm of possibility. Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is developing a Metal Gear Solid adaptation, which is the most promising game-related movie development in a while.