Untitled Mario film
On January 31, 2018, during a financial briefing, Nintendo announced that it would be producing an animated Mario film in collaboration with Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, co-produced by franchise creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Illumination co-founder Chris Meledandri. The title is currently unknown, but the film is scheduled for theatrical release on April 7, 2023, in North America, April 28, 2023, in Japan, and a general spring 2023 range in the rest of the world. It is the third feature film to be based on Mario, following the Japan-only animated film Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyūshutsu Dai Sakusen! (1986) and the largely unsuccessful Super Mario Bros. live-action film (1993).
Reports on the supposed existence of this film circulated as early as November 2017; Nintendo's then-president, Tatsumi Kimishima, stated in January 2018 that a deal had not been finalized, but that an announcement would come soon. By the end of January 2018, Nintendo affirmed that the film would indeed be moving forward.
Several days after the deal was made, Miyamoto explained why Illumination was chosen for the project over other animation companies, saying he has been interested in producing an animated film for quite some time, and contrary to popular belief, making a movie and making a game are completely different procedures. Miyamoto wanted someone with experience in the film industry to co-produce the film, and after talking with numerous directors and producers, he was introduced to Illumination through Universal Parks & Resorts, with whom Nintendo was making a theme park. Miyamoto also stated that when he begun talks with Meledandri, the latter read numerous interviews about him and felt that they had a similar approach in creation. Miyamoto describes Meledandri as having experience in the field of animation beyond Illumination, being executive producer of Ice Age and other animated projects for 20th Century Fox, as well as Meledandri being "extremely cost-conscious and time-conscious in his quest to make successful movies." Miyamoto also mentioned that Nintendo and Illumination had mutually agreed to call the deal off if neither company could think of an interesting premise, but also noted that the screenplay had been hashed out a number of times and discussions were in progression, hoping to provide more information once the schedule had been ironed out. Miyamoto would later state, in early 2020, that the idea for this film came from bringing Nintendo's legacy content to services such as the Virtual Console; such transitions took time for the company, and Miyamoto viewed that as an opportunity to develop Nintendo's content business even further by combining its long-beloved software with that of video assets.
On November 6, 2018, Meledandri said that he was glad the 1993 film Super Mario Bros. was not well-received, citing the primary reason being that the producers did not involve Nintendo, whereas Illumination is "embracing" Miyamoto and keeping him "front and center" in the film's creation. He said that Illumination's Mario film is in "priority development," and hoped to release the film by 2022. Meledandri also noted that developing a Mario film is "an ambitious task," citing the challenge of adding depth to Mario that would simultaneously compromise generations of fans and feel organic to his iconography as well as supporting a three-act structure. By February 1, 2019, production of the film had formally begun; according to Nintendo, the funds for the production process are being jointly supplied by it and Universal.
Before details on the cast list were formally announced, Sebastian Maniscalco offhandedly mentioned in a YouTube podcast uploaded on August 5, 2021 that he would be voicing the character Spike from the 1985 game Wrecking Crew, portrayed in the movie as "[the brothers'] boss."
The September 23, 2021 Nintendo Direct presentation featured a message from Shigeru Miyamoto announcing the movie as being scheduled for release in the 2022 holiday season and revealing its cast list. On the same day, the press release also announced that Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic are directing, with Matthew Fogel writing the screenplay. On April 25, 2022, a post on Nintendo of America's Twitter account announced that the movie's release would be delayed to spring 2023.
Following criticism of Chris Pratt's casting as Mario, Chris Meledandri was quoted as saying that "All I can tell you is the voice that he's doing for us, and Mario, is phenomenal," and that Pratt's performance would not attempt to replicate the "tenor" of Charles Martinet's portrayal, adding "We cover it in the movie. So you'll see we definitely nod to that."