A series of emails has come to light after the recent hack on Sony, indicating that Sony Pictures has claimed the rights to make a Super Mario Bros. film.
“I am the proud father of the Mario animated film,” wrote producer Avi Arad in an email dated October 23, 2014 to Sony Studio Chief Amy Pascal. In a separate forward, Arad also sent Pascal images of himself with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata.
Pascal then forwarded that email to Tom Rothman, head of TriStar Pictures (a Sony subsidiary) with the words, “Avi closed Mario brothers. Animated.”
None of the leaked emails included any concrete information on the meat and potatoes of the film – filmmakers, directors, animators, etc.; though Pascal did throw out Genndy Tartakovsky as a possibility. “It’s soooo perfect for him,” she wrote about the Hotel Transylvania director and Dexter’s Laboratory creator.
On October 24, Arad sent a thank you email to Sony Pictures Animation President of Production Michelle Raimo Kouyate, thanking her for the congratulatory basket she’d sent him full of Mario swag. “Thank you Avi!” was Kouyate’s response, “Let’s build a Mario empire!” Kouyate also sent a picture of the basket to Pascal, noting, “I can think of 3-4 movies right out of the gate on this. So huge!”
It’s pretty obvious that the Sony executives were excited about the acquisition and future possibilities, however since the leaked emails have been made public, Arad has denied that the Mario deal has closed, and that the emails in question were “just the beginning” of his negotiations with Nintendo.
While that’s certainly possible, the Sony executive reactions speak for themselves.
Apparently, Arad has been chasing after Mario rights for a while, and Nintendo has been playing hard to get. It’s understandable from Nintendo’s point of view, because there’s never been a truly good adaptation of the Mario franchise on television or film. The 1994 live action movie adaptation with Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo was a disaster, and even if you’re nostalgic for it, the 1989 Super Mario Bros. Super Show is very, very 80’s.
Despite Arad’s backtracking and Nintendo’s stoic silence on the matter, it’ll be interesting to watch the development on what might be a new Mario film – especially considering how well animated blockbusters have been doing these past few years.