What’s the next Super Mario Bros. movie? Hollywood Hunts Video Games

Every studio wants Mario’s box office, but it’s harder than it looks.

Calling the success of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” a testament to video game IP would be a disservice to Illumination and Nintendo. Universal confirmed that it grossed $454 million worldwide in its first week, and the Mario movie achieved something that even HBO’s “The Last of Us” didn’t: It’s a four-quarter success.

Lots of kids showed up, of course, and it didn’t hurt that the last family movie was in theaters months ago, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” However, as IndieWire reported last weekend, 84 percent of the film’s audience was 13 and older. It’s a rare film that appeals to both kid-friendly crowds and nostalgic adults, appeals to all genders and ethnicities, and has performed strongly in international markets. , making it the biggest worldwide animated opening of all time.

Such success inevitably sets off a frenzy of aspiring copycats, but you can’t expect this level of achievement from adult video game adaptations like Eli Roth’s “Borderlands” or Neill Blomkamp’s “Gran Turismo.” Likewise, no one is going to spoil their kids for in-development TV series like Amazon’s “God of War” or Netflix’s “Bioshock.”

But can we expect similar alchemy from other PG kid-friendly video game movies?

“That’s the sweet spot,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “The success of video game movies has been very uneven at the box office, and perhaps the code breaker is PG animation when trying to get box office numbers.”

While the ones on the way all feature live-action CGI, they include Paramount and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (due in 2024), a Pokémon: Detective Pikachu sequel in development at Legendary, and a Minecraft. A movie starring Jason Momoa that was just released by Warner Bros. on April 4, 2025.

While 2020’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” may spark renewed interest in video game adaptations, “Super Mario Bros.” he made more money in five days than “Sonic” did in his lifetime. (It took $317 million worldwide, but the pandemic had something to do with that.) This time last year, “Sonic 2” opened to $72 million for a worldwide total of $405 million; “Super Mario brothers.” surpassed that in a week.

However, it’s not a stretch to believe that a third Sonic movie could do better than its predecessors, especially with a Christmas 2024 release. Meanwhile, Paramount is also working on a spinoff series for Sonic’s buddy Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), which could further strengthen the brand. The Paramount+ show could arrive this year.

"Sonic the Hedgehog 2"

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2”

Paramount Global

“Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” was a $449 million hit in 2019 (on a $150 million budget), but a sequel wasn’t confirmed until Legendary announced in March that Portlandia co-creator Jonathan Krisel would direct. (The cast of the original film’s star, Ryan Reynolds, remains TBD.) The steady stream of Pokémon games makes the property extremely popular with both millennials and Gen-Z, and the anime series continues to run on Netflix.

WBD’s “Minecraft” is a wildcard. The live-action film will be produced by Mary Parent and Roy Lee with the Swedish video game studio Mojang, but this game is not a light interpretation. Instead of playing with discernible characters, it’s a blocky-looking 3D “sandbox” adventure game. It has a huge die-hard fanbase of kids who pour hours into the 12-year-old game, but the appeal may not translate to their parents.

A live-action Pac-Man movie is also in the works with Japanese video game publisher Bandai Namco and Justin Baldoni’s Wayfarer Studios, but would anyone say no to a series based on Epic Games’ Fortnite? Would Sony try their luck with a Crash Bandicoot movie? It’s not the only Playstation game that has cross-generational appeal; what about spyro the dragon

Then there’s Nintendo, which owns most of the untapped family-friendly video game IP. It only made tentative steps toward exploiting these characters: Nintendo teenagers in movies like “Wreck-It Ralph” or “Pixels,” a short-lived “Donkey Kong Country” cartoon from the late 90s, and a Kirby anime in In the early 2000s. . However, collecting 50 percent of the “SME” profit will be enough to attract further interest from the Japanese company.

A Mario sequel seems inevitable (and we’re among those voting Wario and Waluigi as villains), but video game movies or series like Kirby, Zelda, and Animal Crossing also have the potential if Nintendo decides to pull the plug . that Rainbow Road. These are properties that can overachieve and be as surprising as “Super Mario Bros.”

However, Dergarabedian notes that his jab at the title “Super Mario” wasn’t the key to the film’s stratospheric success. A lot of things had to go right. The marketing had to reach out and make it clear that this was a movie for kids. Universal and Illumination had to be on the same page with Nintendo to stay true to the spirit and iconography of Mario. And the families had to come back to the theaters.

And Dergarabedian admits he’s wrong: His original prediction was around $500 million. Well, “the sky’s the limit.”

“Enduring a cliché is like lightning in a bottle,” he said. “It’s going to be a blueprint for the other studios to put on the board and go through and try to reverse engineer this thing. It’s not that simple.”

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