Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.
Someone get John Leguizamo on the phone. Nintendo is getting back in the movie business.
Nintendo, a game publisher responsible for releases like Odama and Excite Truck, is the middle of rebranding itself as an entertainment company. And that means it is finally opening up once again to working with Hollywood on a major motion picture, according to Nintendo executive and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto (via an interview in Fortune). This isn’t too surprising as the company’s late chief executive officer, Satoru Iwata, who died in July, had repeatedly said that he was looking to expand Nintendo’s licensing business.
And now Miyamoto is making similar statements. He explained that a number of companies have approached Nintendo about using its characters or about working simultaneously with Nintendo on a multimedia project. But the company has shied away from those kinds of agreements for years.
“Because games and movies seem like similar mediums, people’s natural expectation is we want to take our games and turn them into movies,” said Miyamoto. “But I’ve always felt video games, being an interactive medium, and movies, being a passive medium, mean the two are quite different.”
GamesBeat Summit 2023
Join the GamesBeat community for our virtual day and on-demand content! You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry to share their updates on the latest developments.
And Miyamoto’s opinion about the difference between movies and games hasn’t changed. But it does sound like Nintendo is changing the way it looks at itself.
“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,” he said. “And we’ll potentially be looking at things like movies in the future.”
If you’re wondering why Nintendo is so hesitant to embrace moving pictures, you need look no further than the 1993’s Super Mario Bros. That film had Nintendo working closely with the filmmakers to disastrous results. It’s one of the most notable examples of Hollywood tainting a gaming property during an adaptation … even if the campy scene below is kind of wonderful.
But despite that rough history, Nintendo obviously sees film as one potential avenue where it could generate revenue outside of its core gaming sector. And that diversification is something the company has already acted on. In May, Nintendo inked a deal with Universal Parks & Resorts to bring Mario, Zelda, and other Nintendo attractions to theme parks in Orlando, Fla., and around the world.
And in February, a rumor claimed Nintendo met with Netflix about a potential Zelda television show.
Whether a Zelda Netflix show happens or not, it’s clear that Nintendo wants to start earning more from its characters. Hollywood is one of the best ways to do that — if you need proof, just look at what Disney has done with Marvel, Pixar, and more and what it’s about to do with Star Wars.
Nintendo could establish itself as a Disney-style entertainment company, and it could start by turning its franchises into summer blockbusters.
GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.