Video games have never been more culturally prominent or a bigger force in the entertainment industry than they are today, but the games business itself is in a state of great upheaval and rapid change; with Sony upgrading the PlayStation 4 sooner than expected and Microsoft moving toward cross-platform compatibility. But the biggest question mark of all is the fate of Nintendo, the last stalwart of the console gaming “Golden Age” and owner of many of the medium’s most coveted franchises, but also a company facing difficulty staying abreast of a changing business.
Now, from a new interview, comes word that the gaming giant is moving into a new venture: Producing movies based on it’s classic game series — with the first arriving in the next few years.
The news of Nintendo entering the film arena arrived as part of a broader discussion of the company’s shifting focus in terms of how it manages its assets internationally. This process has been ongoing for several years and has included other new ventures, such as a theme part arrangement with Universal Studios and a move into mobile and smartphone development — a field which, like filmmaking, the company had previously long shown a powerful aversion to.
According to an interview with Kimishima in today's Asahi Shinbun, Nintendo is getting into the movie business. https://t.co/BqFHdg4fS1— Kyle McLain (@FarmboyinJapan) May 15, 2016
Kimishima hints that Nintendo is looking at a production system where "we can do as much as we can ourselves."— Kyle McLain (@FarmboyinJapan) May 15, 2016
Kimishima also says that Nintendo would like to have it's first movie ready within the next 2-3 years.— Kyle McLain (@FarmboyinJapan) May 15, 2016
No indication was given as to which games (or game series) Nintendo would be planning to turn into movies, or what form they might take — though according to IGN, subsequent translations of the Asahi interview have implied that the plans do not lean in the direction of live-action fare, suggesting an initial focus on animated films. It was also revealed that the company plans to develop these yet-unnamed films to a high-degree as “in house” projects, and will sell it’s stake in the Seattle Mariners baseball franchise in order to finance the initial move.
The report also notes that Shigeru Miyamoto, credited as the creator of Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and many of Nintendo’s other most famous characters, is expected to be involved with the development of these projects — though to an unspecified degree. If so, it would mark a change in outlook for the gaming veteran, who had previously expressed either disinterest or opposition to the idea of games-to-film adaptations.
While this would see the first time Nintendo has elected to develop feature-film projects on its own, Nintendo properties have been adapted before — though far less often than one would expect, given their worldwide and decades-long popularity. A one-off anime feature based on Super Mario Bros was produced by Toei in the early 1980s, followed by U.S. series based on the first four Mario titles and Zelda. The Kirby series has also been adapted as has Animal Crossing (into an anime feature film that was not released outside of Japan), though by far the most successful has been Pokemon. That title has produced 19 animated features to date and is currently the subject of a massive bidding war over a proposed live-action adaptation — though, as Nintendo shares control of that property with The Pokemon Company, it is unclear whether the two deals are at all related.
Screen Rant will have more information regarding Nintendo‘s movie plans as they are made available.