Super Mario Bros. (film)

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Super Mario Bros.
SMB Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Written by
Based on Mario
by Shigeru Miyamoto
Narrated by Dan Castellaneta
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Dean Semler
Edited by Mark Goldblatt
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution[1]
Release date
  • May 28, 1993 (1993-05-28)
Running time
104 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $48 million[3]
Box office $20.9 million[3]

Super Mario Bros. is a 1993 American fantasy adventure film[4] based on the Japanese video game series of the same name created by Nintendo. It was directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, written by Parker Bennett, Terry Runté and Ed Solomon, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios through Hollywood Pictures.

It stars Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher Stevens, Fiona Shaw and Richard Edson. The film follows the Mario brothers (Hoskins and Leguizamo), who rescue Princess Daisy (Mathis) from a parallel universe ruled by the ruthless President Koopa (Hopper).

Super Mario Bros. was shot in both New York City and North Carolina on a budget of $48 million. It was released on May 28, 1993, in the United States and grossed $20.9 million. Critics praised the film's innovative special effects, creative artistic direction, and the performances of its actors, but criticized the confusing narrative and inconsistent tone.


About 65,000,000 years ago, a meteorite crashes into the Earth, killing the dinosaurs and splitting the universe into two parallel dimensions. The surviving dinosaurs cross into this new dimension and evolve into a humanoid race.

In the present, Italian American plumbers Mario and Luigi live in Brooklyn, New York. They are being driven out of business by the mafia-like Scapelli Construction Company led by Anthony Scapelli. Luigi falls in love with orphaned NYU student Daisy, who is digging under the Brooklyn Bridge for dinosaur bones. After a date, Daisy takes Luigi back to the bridge only to witness two of Scapelli's men sabotaging it by leaving the water pipes open. Unable to fix the flooding, Luigi and Daisy rush back to his apartment where they inform Mario about the incident. The trio returns to the flooding where the Mario Bros. manage to fix it but are knocked unconscious by Iggy and Spike, who proceed to capture Daisy.

Moments later, Mario and Luigi awaken and head deeper into the caves following Daisy's screams and discover an interdimensional portal allowing the Mario Bros. to follow Daisy. It turns out that Iggy and Spike are henchmen (and cousins) of the other world's germophobic and obsessive–compulsive dictator, King Koopa, who descended from the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Iggy and Spike realize they didn't bring Daisy's rock, a meteorite fragment which Koopa is trying to get in order to merge his world with the human world. It is then revealed that Daisy is the long-lost Princess of the other dimension. When Koopa overthrew Daisy's father (and devolved him into fungus), her mother took her to Brooklyn using the interdimensional portal. The portal was then closed, with Daisy's mother killed in the process, but Scapelli's men inadvertently reopened the portal when they blasted the cave. Upon hearing this, Koopa sends Spike and Iggy to find both Daisy and the rock to merge the dimensions and make him dictator of both worlds. However, after Koopa subjects them to one of his experiments to make them more intelligent, Spike and Iggy realize Koopa's evil intentions and side with the Mario Bros. in the desert. Daisy is taken to Koopa-Tower, where she meets a young Yoshi. Koopa informs Daisy that she descended from the dinosaurs, believing only Daisy can merge the worlds because of her royal heritage. Eventually, the Mario Bros. rescue Daisy with the help of Toad, a good-natured guitarist who was punished by Koopa for performing music that protests his reign (for which he is devolved into a Goomba).

Eventually, the two worlds merge and Koopa devolves Scapelli into a chimpanzee before going after Mario, but Luigi and Daisy manage to remove the fragment from the meteorite and the worlds separate again. In Dinohattan, Mario confronts Koopa and eventually defeats him when he and Luigi fire their devolution guns at Koopa and blast him with a Bob-omb. Koopa, now transformed into a ferocious, semi-humanoid Tyrannosaurus attempts to kill the Mario Bros., but they destroy him once and for all by transforming him into an actual T. rex, which is too intense for him to live through and instead turns him into primeval slime. With Daisy's father restored after Koopa's defeat, he reclaims control over the kingdom. The citizens celebrate and immediately destroy anything under Koopa's influence. Luigi professes his love for Daisy and wants her to come to Brooklyn with him, but Daisy cannot come until the damage caused by Koopa is repaired and thus, she wants to spend more time with her father. Heartbroken, Luigi kisses Daisy goodbye as he and Mario return home to Brooklyn, with Daisy watching them leave. Three weeks later, the Mario Bros. are getting ready for dinner when their story comes on the news and the anchorman says they should be called the "Super Mario Bros." Daisy then arrives and asks the Mario Bros. to help her and says, "You're never gonna believe this!"

In a post-credits scene, two Japanese business executives propose making a video game based on Iggy and Spike, who decide on the title The Super Koopa Cousins.




The suggestion for a film based on the Super Mario Bros. was first put forward by Roland Joffé during a script meeting at his production company Lightmotive. Joffé met the Nintendo of America president and Hiroshi Yamauchi's son-in law Minoru Arakawa. He presented Arakawa with an initial draft of the script. One month after their meeting, Joffé went to Nintendo's corporate headquarters in Kyoto spending 10 days waiting to meet Hiroshi Yamauchi. After some time, Joffé received a phone call summoning him to Yamauchi's office. He pitched to Yamauchi the storyline which led to Nintendo receiving interest in the project. When Joffé was questioned about Nintendo having to sell the rights to a small studio company instead of a major company, he believed that Nintendo would have more control over the film.[5] Joffé left with a $2 million contract giving the temporary control of the character of Mario over to Joffé.[6]

The first screenplay was written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Barry Morrow. His story followed brothers Mario and Luigi on an existential road-trip so similar to Morrow's prior Rain Man that production titled the script "Drain Man."[7][8]

Screenwriters Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker were brought on next to write a more traditional adaptation. Their comedic take on fairy tale themes focused on Mario and Luigi attempting to rescue a princess named Hildy from Koopa.[9] Director Greg Beeman of License to Drive and Mom and Dad Save the World was attached to direct and development had already moved into pre-production, but the failure of Mom and Dad Save the World led to his dismissal by nervous producers.

Joffé then offered Harold Ramis the opportunity to direct from the Jennewein/Parker screenplay. Ramis took up the meeting as he was a fan of the Super Mario Bros. game but declined the offer.[10] Joffé continued seeking a replacement director, but none could be found until Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel of British television series Max Headroom.[6]

"We come from the Tim Burton school of filmmaking, because our background is in animation and comic books," said director Morton. "So we started off basing everything in reality, and then tried to have fun and exaggerate it as much as possible."[11]:37

Morton described the film's story as a prequel to the video games.[12] Screenwriter Parker Bennett elaborated "Our take on it was that Nintendo interpreted the events from our story and came up with the video game. We basically worked backwards."[11]:37 The concept of a parallel universe inhabited by dinosaurs was inspired by Dinosaur Land from the recently released Super Mario World.[11] Jankel envisioned the parallel dimension as "[...]a whole world with a reptile point-of-view, dominated by aggressive, primordial behavior and basic instincts,"[12]:54 while Morton considered the ecological and technological consequences of a dinosaur society that holds fossil fuels sacred.[12]:56

Actor John Leguizamo described the adventure as "The Wizard of Oz meets Mad Max"


Lead creatures designer and supervisor Patrick Tatopoulos was aware of the concurrent Jurassic Park production, so consciously designed the dinosaurs for Super Mario Bros. more cute and cartoony with inspiration from Beetlejuice.[11]:38

Tatopolous designed Yoshi with large eyes to evoke a softer and less menacing quality than a more realistic T. rex.[11]:38 Four versions of the Yoshi puppet were built: a stand-in, a wireless model, a half-puppet for the tongue, and a fully functional model. The fully functional puppet utilized 70 cables and nine operators, costing $500,000.[11]:38-39 Producers from Jurassic Park visited the set for Super Mario Bros. and were so impressed with the Yoshi puppet they briefly considered hiring its engineers for a second Jurassic Park creatures shop.[13]

Originally, the Goombas were only background characters, but their final designs were so impressive that directors Morton and Jankel promoted them to main characters with major stunts.[11]:39

The intelligent Fungus was inspired by both the Mushroom Kingdom from the games[12]:56 and tabloid reports of a discovered gigantic fungus.[12]:55

Super Mario Bros. innovated and introduced many techniques considered pivotal in the transition from practical to digital visual effects. It was the first film to use the software Autodesk Flame, now an industry standard.[14] It was also the first film scanned with a digital intermediate, allowing for the compositing of over 700 visual effects shots.[15]

The disintegration effect for the inter-dimensional merge was inspired by the Transporter from Star Trek.[12]:55

Contrary to many reports, directors Morton and Jankel did complete the contracted shooting of the film, though Director of Photography Dean Semler and several second unit directors provided additional reshoots.[14]


After securing the rights to the film, Lightmotive went to work finding the casting for the characters. Danny DeVito was briefly attached to the project in the role of Mario.[16] Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Keaton were both approached to play Koopa. Tom Hanks was considered for Luigi, but the role eventually went to first choice John Leguizamo.[14]


Critical reaction[edit]

As of 18 April 2018, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 14% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 35 reviews with an average rating of 3.7/10. The site's consensus states: "Despite flashy sets and special effects, Super Mario Bros. is too light on story and substance to be anything more than a novelty."[17]

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two thumbs down on the television program Siskel & Ebert At the Movies,[18] and the film was on their list for one of the worst films of 1993.[19] Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times applauded the film's visual effects, but disapproved of the property's videogame origin.[20] Hal Hinson of the Washington Post praised the film for its performances and creatures effects, going on to say, "In short, it's a blast."[21] Janet Maslin of The New York Times commended the film's visual effects and writing, but concluded it "doesn't have the jaunty hop-and-zap spirit of the Nintendo video game from which it takes – ahem – its inspiration."[22]

Super Mario Bros. was one of four Disney films under consideration for the Best Visual Effects award at the 66th Academy Awards. Although an animated film, Disney ultimately selected The Nightmare Before Christmas to be nominated instead.[23]

Home media[edit]

The film was first released on VHS in 1994 and on DVD in the United States in 2003 and again in 2010. The quality of the DVD release was widely derided for being non-anamorphic and only English Dolby Digital 5.1.

The film finally received a new transfer for Region B by independent distributor Second Sight Films in the United Kingdom on November 3, 2014.[24][25] The film was re-released as a limited edition Blu-Ray steelbook by Zavvi (retailer) in February 2017.[26]

Archive and fan website Super Mario Bros.: The Movie Archive is currently working with original VFX Supervisor Christopher F. Woods on a 4K resolution transfer and restoration for a future Region A release.[27]


In the Nintendo Power 20th anniversary retrospective issue, as they chronicled the games and other related releases over the magazine's life span, the film's release was listed. The issue stated that despite the film's poor quality, the fact that it was made shows how much the game series had impacted popular culture.[28]

Hoskins spoke critically of Super Mario Bros., saying that it was "the worst thing I ever did" and that "the whole experience was a nightmare" in a 2007 interview with The Guardian.[29] In another interview with The Guardian, Hoskins was asked, "What is the worst job you've done?", "What has been your biggest disappointment?", and "If you could edit your past, what would you change?" His answer to all three was Super Mario Bros.[30]

Leguizamo also admitted in 2007 that he, too, disliked his role as Luigi in the film, and expressed dissatisfaction with the film's direction. He said in his biography that perhaps the reason why the film turned out the way it did was that the studio wanted a more family friendly film while the directors wanted it to be more adult-like. He also said that both he and Hoskins did not enjoy working on the film, frequently getting drunk to go through it, knowing that it would turn out bad.[31]

Hopper was also disparaging of the production, "It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband and wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn't talk before they made decisions. Anyway, I was supposed to go down there for five weeks, and I was there for 17. It was so over budget."[32]

Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario's creator, stated, "[In] the end, it was a very fun project that they put a lot of effort into," but also said, "The one thing that I still have some regrets about is that the movie may have tried to get a little too close to what the Mario Bros. video games were. And in that sense, it became a movie that was about a video game, rather than being an entertaining movie in and of itself."[33] Nintendo has not produced any more live-action theatrical films based from their video game franchises. Since then, a Metroid film was put into development but plans fell through.[34] A live action/CGI hybrid Pokémon film is also in development at Legendary Pictures, set to be released by Universal Pictures.[35]

Co-director Rocky Morton reflected on the movie in 2016 as a "harrowing" experience. He explained that he and Annabel Jankel, along with the rest of the cast, agreed to make the movie based on the script originally written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, which focused on Mario and Luigi's complicated but loving family dynamic that they had developed in the absence of their parents. A few weeks before shooting was to begin, the studio financing the film demanded significant rewrites to make the film more childlike and comedic. The final result, according to Morton, was a script that was not at all like the script that he, Jankel, and the cast had signed on to film, and that the tone of the new script was not at all compatible with the sets, which had already been built. Morton also reflected that he felt very uneasy being put in the position of having to defend the new script. In addition, working with Dennis Hopper was "really, really hard. Really hard. I don’t think [Dennis Hopper] had a clue what was going on." Despite describing the overall experience as humiliating,[36] Morton is proud of the film considering the chaos created as a result of the late and unexpected script rewrites.[37]

Writer Brian Tucker of Star News Online first regarded the film's cult following in a 2011 article discussing Hoskins and the film's legacy.[38]

Sequel Comic[edit]

In 2013, Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss teamed with one of the film's original screenwriters on a webcomic sequel. The adventure picks up with Mario and Luigi returning to Dinohattan to aid Daisy in defeating mad scientist Wart, the final boss from Super Mario Bros. 2.[39][40]


Super Mario Bros.
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released May 10, 1993
Genre Pop
Hip hop
Jazz rap
Length 55:16
Label Capitol Records
Producer Various Artists
Singles from Super Mario Bros.
  1. "Almost Unreal"
    Released: 10 May 1993
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[41]
Entertainment Weekly D[42]

The soundtrack, released on May 10, 1993 by Capitol Records, featured two songs from Roxette: "Almost Unreal" which was released as a single, and "2 Cinnamon Street" which is an alternate version of the song "Cinnamon Street" from Roxette's album "Tourism". The music video for "Almost Unreal" was inspired by the film, featuring scenes from the film and a de-evolution theme. "Almost Unreal" was originally written for the film Hocus Pocus but was never used and ended up attached to the Mario film instead. The change angered Roxette co-founder Per Gessle.[43]

The film's score was composed by Alan Silvestri. It has not been officially released, though bootleg copies do exist.

George Clinton (who covered the Was (Not Was) song - "Walk The Dinosaur") released a single in 1993 that contained various other versions of the same song, including a Club Remix, a "Funky Goomba" Remix, a "Goomba Dub Mix" and an Instrumental version.

Track listing
No. Title Writer(s) Performed by Length
1. "Almost Unreal" Per Gessle Roxette 3:59
2. "Love Is the Drug" (Originally performed by Roxy Music) Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay Divinyls 4:35
3. "Walk the Dinosaur" (Originally performed by Was (Not Was)) Randy Jacobs, David Was, Don Was George Clinton & The Goombas 4:06
4. "I Would Stop the World" Mick Leeson, Peter Vale Charles & Eddie 4:24
5. "I Want You" Donnie Wahlberg Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch 6:11
6. "Where Are You Going?"   Extreme 4:34
7. "Speed of Light" Joe Satriani Joe Satriani 5:10
8. "Breakpoint" Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Nick Menza Megadeth 3:29
9. "Tie Your Mother Down" Brian May Queen 3:46
10. "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" Herbie Hancock, Rahsaan Kelly, Mel Simpson, Geoff Wilkinson Us3 Featuring Rahsaan & Gerrard Prescencer 4:29
11. "Don't Slip Away [ * ]" Tracie Spencer, Narada Michael Walden, Sylvester Jackson Tracie Spencer 5:19
12. "2 Cinnamon Street [ * ]"   Roxette 5:06
Total length: 55:16

* These tracks were not included in the U.S. and Canada releases, only on the international versions of the album.[44]

Note: "2 Cinnamon Street" (sung by Marie Fredriksson) is an alternative version of "Cinnamon Street" sung by Per Gessle on Roxette's 1992 album "Tourism".[45]

Subsequent Mario film[edit]

Rumors of an animated Super Mario film began sprouting in late 2014, with leaked emails between film producer Avi Arad and Sony Pictures head Tom Rothman suggesting that Sony would be producing the film.[46] On November 14, 2017, Universal Pictures and Illumination announced they will release a computer-animated Mario film.[47] On January 31, 2018, Nintendo of America announced their partnership with Illumination, stating that the film will be co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri.[48]


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  19. ^ "Siskel & Ebert At the Movies 1993-Worst of 93 pt 1". YouTube. February 10, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
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  25. ^ Webmaster (September 4, 2014). "Super Mario Bros. Blu-ray Release Detailed". 
  26. ^ Casey. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie To Be Released On Blu-Ray Along With Limited Edition Steelbook". Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  27. ^ Winkie, Luke. "'Two Fans' Obsessive Quest To Redeem The Super Mario Bros. Movie". Kotaku. Retrieved March 16, 2018. 
  28. ^ "20 Years of Nintendo Power"
  29. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (August 3, 2007). "The Method? Living it out? Cobblers!". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  30. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (June 18, 2011). "Q&A: Bob Hoskins". The Guardian. London. Retrieved June 24, 2011. 
  31. ^ "John Leguizamo Reveals Horrors of Playing Luigi in the movie Super Mario Bros - Armchair Arcade". Retrieved August 24, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Random Roles: Dennis Hopper". The A.V. Club. December 12, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  33. ^ "MIYAMOTO: THE INTERVIEW". Edge Magazine. November 27, 2007. Archived from the original on May 3, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2010. 
  34. ^ "Whatever Happened to the Metroid Movie?". IGN. December 28, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  35. ^ Fleming, Jr, Mike (November 30, 2016). "Rob Letterman To Direct Pokemon Film 'Detective Pikachu' For Legendary". Deadline. 
  36. ^ Meli, Jowi. "Interview: Rocky Morton On The Chaos Of Directing The Super Mario Bros. Movie". Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  37. ^ Palmer, Poppy-Jay. "SUPER MARIO BROS.'S ROCKY MORTON: 'IT WAS A HARROWING EXPERIENCE'". Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  38. ^ Tucker, Brian. "Bob Hoskins disses Wilmington-made 'Mario Bros.'". Wilmington Star News. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  39. ^ O'Neal, Sean. "Here's the Super Mario Bros. movie sequel someone wanted, in comic form". Retrieved August 24, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Someone Made a Comic Book Sequel to the 'Super Mario Bros.' Movie". Retrieved August 24, 2017. 
  41. ^ Greenberg, Adam. "Super Mario Brothers - Original Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  42. ^ Browne, David (June 18, 1993). "Review of the Soundtracks for Sliver, Poetic Justice, What's Love Got To Do With It, Posse, Last Action Hero, Made in America and Super Mario Bros.". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  43. ^ liner notes to Roxette album, Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus!
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  45. ^ Information taken from:, section: Boogleg.
  46. ^
  47. ^ "Super Mario Movie in the Works". Retrieved November 14, 2017. 
  48. ^ "Nintendo and Illumination are partnering on a movie starring Mario, co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri!". Twitter. Retrieved February 1, 2018. 

External links[edit]