You’d better believe there are plenty of “Wa-hoos!” echoing through the halls of Nintendo and Universal Studios right now. The Super Mario Bros. Movie easily stomped on all box-office rivals in its opening weekend, rocketing to the top of the charts as if it was shot out of a Barrel Cannon on DK Mountain. It’s a victory three decades in the making for the video game giant: The last time Mario and Luigi graced the big screen, they were played by the late Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, respectively, in the famously rejected (but maybe secretly great?) 1993 live-action movie.
And just like “Pac-Man Fever,” don’t expect Super Mario fever to break anytime soon. With no other PG-rated animated competition on the horizon until Rally Road Racers on May 12, the 92-minute film has the track clear for a lucrative run. Sequels and spinoffs featuring the titular brothers plus the franchise’s enormous supporting cast are also a given, not to mention other animated movies based on Nintendo properties. We know you’re curious about what’s in store for everyone’s favorite mushroom-chomping plumbers, and we’ve got your answers in the question blocks below.
Just how many golden coins did Mario and Luigi collect this weekend anyway?
Put it this way… Peach’s Castle is gonna need a bigger vault. With a reported $377 million global gross — and $204.6 million in the U.S. alone — banked across its opening five-day speed run, The Super Mario Bros. Movie power-jumped over Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to claim the super star for biggest five-day opening of all time domestically and is sitting behind Walt Disney’s Frozen 2 for the highest-grossing global bow for an animated feature. It’s also the biggest debut ever for Illumination Studios, the home of the Despicable Me and Sing franchises, and sped past 2016’s Warcraft to nab the trophy for the most lucrative start for a video game-based movie ever. Nothing but sunshine with stats like that.
What happened to the debate over Chris Pratt’s voice?
It’s often said that plumbers are never lacking for work, and Chris Pratt now enjoys the same kind of job security. In the run-up to Super Mario Bros.‘s release, the Guardians of the Galaxy star may have been constantly dodging fireballs and Koopa shells hurled by internet trolls for not sounding remotely like a Brooklyn-born Italian plumber, but he called his shot when he told Yahoo Entertainment: “I think people are gonna really enjoy it.” Not for nothing, but those same people powered the movie to an A-grade CinemaScore, suggesting that they were happy with what they heard.
It helps that Illumination and Nintendo both stood by their casting choice throughout the two-year production, never bowing to fan pressure and thus avoiding an “Ugly Sonic” situation that would have necessitated extensive last-minute revisions. “We tried a lot of different things and ultimately settled on the voice that you hear when you watch the movie,” Pratt said of the voiceover process, noting that directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic were always “adding stuff and taking stuff away” to arrive at his final Mario voice. And don’t count out the Charles Martinet bump: The beloved voice of Mario in the video games lent the movie his seal of approval by performing multiple characters, including the rarely seen Papa Mario. What a good dad.
How did this movie avoid repeating history?
The makers of The Super Mario Bros. Movie didn’t need access to Mario’s time machine to realize what went wrong on the 1993 Bob-bom — the evidence is all there on the screen. Directed by husband-and-wife team Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, the earlier film foolishly (or, if you’re a fan, bravely) eschewed faithfulness to the source material, instead creating its bizarre version of the game’s characters and universe. Multiple writers took a crack at the screenplay, starting with Oscar-winning Rain Man scribe Barry Morrow.
“It was gamelike in its silliness,” Morrow told Yahoo Entertainment in 2018 about his never-filmed version of the script. “But at the heart of it was a brother relationship, not necessarily a Rain Man relationship, but there was something there.” Morrow also suggested that extreme creative differences with Morton and Jankel led to his departure. “[We] weren’t even speaking the same language,” he recalled.
After taking a hands-off approach to that Mario Bros. movie, Nintendo was very involved in this one, and their participation ensured high fidelity to the video games that multiple generations have grown up on. It also allowed Illumination free access to the company’s back catalogue for crowd pleasing Easter eggs, from a pizzeria named after the NES boxing favorite Punch Out to the “DK Rap” from Donkey Kong 64. For fans and families alike, shoutouts like that totally slap.
Why won’t John Leguizamo see the movie?
You gotta give him some credit for standing by his late brother. Since the first trailer dropped last year, Leguizamo — the O.G. big screen Luigi — has made it clear that he’s boycotting the new Super Mario movie due to the lack of Latino actors in the vocal cast. “They could’ve included a Latin character,” the actor recently told TMZ. “Like I was groundbreaking and then they stopped the groundbreaking. They messed up the inclusion. They dis-included. Just cast some Latin folk! We’re 20% of the population. The largest people of color group and we are underrepresented.”
It’s worth noting that Anya Taylor-Joy, who voices Princess Peach in the film, does identify as Latina. The 26-year-old Queen’s Gambit star grew up in Argentina with her parents — her father has Argentine ancestry and her mother has Spanish ancestry — and speaks fluent Spanish. “I’m aware of the fact I don’t look like a typical Latin person, and that’s not fair,” Joy told New York magazine in 2018 when asked about whether she intended to pursue Latina roles. “I don’t want to be someone that you can just sub in for that role when I’m really white and blond.”
Will there be a Super Mario Bros. Movie 2?
Easy answer: Yes. And why just stop at one? Illumination and Nintendo will almost certainly be ransacking Toad’s trading post for additional material for years and years to come. As Peach pointedly says during the course of the movie, there are a countless number of galaxies beyond the Mushroom Kingdom and Mario could explore every single one. Heck, if he can’t make it, Captain Toad and his fellow toadstools could spearhead an expedition there on his behalf in a Minions-esque spinoff movie.
Not for nothing, but a post-credits scene already sets up a destination for the sequel. Just as Sonic’s pal Tails made his appearance at the uh… tail end of 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario’s regular companion Yoshi is heard (though not seen) inside his trademark green-speckled egg in the very last shot of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. That means an odyssey to Yoshi’s Island is all but assured — hopefully Mario remembers his swim trunks.
What other Nintendo movies can we expect to see?
Any list of future Nintendo-based movies has to start with Donkey Kong Country since the big ape and his extended family is introduced as part of Mario’s origin story. And while both characters do share a history dating back to that time DK unwisely swiped Mario’s galpal, Pauline, they’ve long since branched off to have their separate mythologies that have spanned multiple video games.
Thinking outside the banana, another Nintendo character ripe for their own movie has to be Link — the star of Nintendo’s immortal Legend of Zelda franchise. The tone of that film would admittedly be trickier to master than the Super Mario series, given the lush worldbuilding and earnest adventure yarns fans expect from the games. Our advice: Turn that movie over to the stop-motion wizards at Laika Studios — the studio behind one of the best animated movies in recent memory, Kubo and the Two Strings — for a truly dazzling visual experience mixed with stellar fantasy storytelling.
As for other titles, adapting the sci-fi shoot ’em up Metroid to the big screen would almost certainly require stepping outside of Illumination’s family-friendly zone. But the studio behind the Minions seems like the right home for cheerier characters like Kirby and the Animal Crossing cast. And with Universal’s Fast and Furious franchise winding down, an F-Zero film series overseen by Illumination could zoom in as a replacement. With Vin Diesel voicing Captain Falcon, natch.
How long do we have to wait for the next video game-based hit?
Try Aug. 11. That’s when Neill Blomkamp’s Gran Turismo — based on the PlayStation racing game — speeds into theaters with a cast that includes David Harbour and Orlando Bloom. (Additional spice is provided by Geri Halliwell in a small role.) After that, you can look forward to Oct. 27 when the long-in-the-works movie version of Five Nights at Freddy’s — the survival horror game that’s so popular with your tween — is finally scheduled to arrive in theaters with a cast that includes Matthew Lillard and Josh Hutcherson. While that live-action adaptation likely won’t soar as high as The Super Mario Bros. Movie, horror movies are a safe box-office bet these days and the fan love for Freddy’s is real (and scary). Also on the horizon is Eli Roth’s adaptation of Borderlands, starring Cate Blanchett and Bowser himself, Jack Black. While the release date remains unannounced, the movie recently wrapped a round of reshoots overseen by Tim Miller, who subbed in due to Roth’s scheduling conflicts.
But families likely won’t gather in front of the console again until the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on Dec. 20, 2024. While it’s unclear if Jim Carrey is returning as Dr. Robotnik, James Marsden is expected to share the set with his CGI co-stars, including Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Idris Elba as Knuckles. If that blue hedgehog hopes to top Mario and Luigi’s record-setting opening, he’d better go fast.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is playing in theaters now.