While the Super Mario Bros. series has been one of the all-time great video game franchises for over 30 years, the live-action movie from 1993 is less fondly remembered. The film was a box office bomb of epic proportions that chased Nintendo out of Hollywood for decades, giving video game movies a bad name across the board. Behind the scenes, a very interesting story played out that ultimately doomed this movie’s chances.
Early in November, the YouTube channel Gaming Historian posted a half-hour documentary on the making of the Super Mario Bros. It’s important to remember that no one set out to make this film a failure, and there were high hopes for it at the beginning of the process. Danny DeVito was apparently the top choice to play Mario, but he declined the role. The amazing thing is that Tom Hanks was actually eager to play Mario, but the studio turned him down because his box office career had, at said point, hit a brief downturn. The title role ended up going to Bob Hoskins, just a few years after his breakout turn in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The video identified the turning point for this project as the search for the director and the screenwriters. Some of the early takes on the film were actually pretty close to the original video games. However, after its Hollywood development, Super Mario Bros. was turned into something that wasn’t exactly embraced by the public. But that paled in comparison to the on-set conflicts with the husband and wife directing team of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. Collectively, “Rockabel” turned into the one boss battle that even the Mario brothers couldn’t get past.
Amazingly, the Super Mario Bros. movie has actually earned a cult following; which is acknowledged at the end of the video. And more recently, Nintendo has expressed a willingness to try again in Hollywood. This may not be the last Super Mario Bros. movie ever made, but we’d suggest an animated approach for the next one!
What did you think about the Super Mario Bros. documentary? Leap over the goombas and leave a comment below!
Images: Hollywood Pictures/Walt Disney Pictures
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