Mario’s Creator Loosening the Reigns to Appeal to a Wider Audience and Challenge Disney

Nov 25
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Mario has long been the most famous guy in the realm of video games, but the mustachioed one is set to become a true multimedia superstar. “Super Nintendo World,” which will focus heavily on the plumber and his pals, opens in Universal Studios Japan this year, and a Super Mario movie is coming from Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets). But the ambition of Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto goes well beyond that. Per a new interview with the Nikkei Asian Review, the hope is for Mario to supplant Mickey Mouse as the most recognizable mascot in the world. A lofty goal, but Miyamoto still has one obstacle – video-game-hating parents…

Many parents want to keep their children from playing video games, but these same parents have no problem allowing them to watch Disney movies. So, we cannot seriously challenge [Disney] unless parents start feeling comfortable about their children playing Nintendo.

Interestingly, it sounds like Mario’s personality may be changing a bit as he looks to tackle new forms of entertainment. Miyamoto previously strove for strict consistency with Mario, but that ultimately “cramped his style.” Going forward, the way Mario is presented may be a bit looser, with Miyamoto saying he’s “interested in creating greater opportunities for a larger audience to enjoy [the Mario universe].”

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It will certainly be interesting to see how Mario develops as Nintendo tries to expand his base. The simple guy who just like mushrooms, saving princesses, and shouting “Woo-hoo!” isn’t really going to be able to carry a movie. Of course, long-time Nintendo fans will remember an earlier era when Mario’s personality wasn’t so nailed down, and he appeared in cartoons, movies, and other spinoffs of sometimes…dubious quality. Hopefully Nintendo avoids the mistakes of the past.

As mentioned, Super Mario World opens at Universal Studios Japan in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, and will then expand to Universal Studios Orlando. The Super Mario movie is expected to hit theaters sometime in 2022.

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