Super Mario Bros. (film)
|Super Mario Bros.|
Theatrical release poster
by Shigeru Miyamoto
|Narrated by||Dan Castellaneta|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Edited by||Mark Goldblatt|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures Distribution|
|Box office||$20.9 million|
Super Mario Bros. is a 1993 American fantasy adventure film  based on the Japanese video game series of the same name and the game Super Mario Bros. 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.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release
- 5 Legacy
- 6 Soundtrack
- 7 Subsequent Mario film
- 8 References
- 9 External links
About 65 million 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.
- Bob Hoskins as Mario Mario
- John Leguizamo as Luigi Mario
- Dennis Hopper as King Koopa
- Samantha Mathis as Princess Daisy
- Fisher Stevens as Iggy
- Richard Edson as Spike
- Fiona Shaw as Lena
- Mojo Nixon as Toad
- Dana Kaminski as Daniella
- Francesca Roberts as Big Bertha
- Gianni Russo as Anthony Scapelli
- Don Lake as Sgt. Simon
- Lance Henriksen as The Fungus King, or King Reznor
- Frank Welker as Creature Voices
- Dan Castellaneta as Narrator
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. Joffé left with a $2 million contract giving the temporary control of the character of Mario over to Joffé. Nintendo retained merchandising rights for the film through a "creative partnership" with Lightmotive.
When Yamauchi asked Joffé why Nintendo should sell the rights to Lightmotive over a major company Joffé assured that Nintendo would have more control over the film. However, Nintendo had no interest in creative control and believed the Mario brand was strong enough to allow an American experiment. "I think they looked at the movie as some sort of strange creature that was kind of rather intriguing to see if we could walk or not," said Joffé.
"How do we catch this wonderful mixture of images and inputs and strangeness?" Joffé wondered. 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." Morrow described his screenplay as "a study in contrast, like Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello," that like the game itself would have "an odyssey and a quest." Co-producer Fred Caruso later said that Morrow's story was "more of a serious drama piece as opposed to a fun comedy."
Screenwriters Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker were brought on next to write a more traditional adaptation. "So right away we knew that the best way to do this is to essentially have a journey into this world, not unlike The Wizard of Oz," said Jennewein. His and Parker's take on the story was to subvert fairy tale clichés and satirize them, as well as focus on the relationship between Mario and Luigi. "Essentially what we did was what Shrek did," Jennewein argues. "And we knew the story had to be about the brothers and that the emotional through-line would be about the brothers."
Greg Beeman of License to Drive was attached to direct and development had already moved into pre-production, but the failure of Beeman's recent Mom and Dad Save the World led to his dismissal by nervous producers. Joffé then offered Harold Ramis the director's mantle, but Ramis declined the opportunity despite being a fan of the video game.
"We tried some various avenues that didn't work, that came up too medieval or somehow wasn't the right thing. I felt the project was taking a wrong turn," said Joffé. "And that's when I began thinking of Max Headroom." Joffé traveled to Rome to meet with creators Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. "We come from the Tim Burton school of filmmaking, because our background is in animation and comic books," said Morton. "So we started off basing everything in reality, and then tried to have fun and exaggerate it as much as possible."
Joffé, Morton and Jankel agreed their approach in adapting the video games should follow the darker tone popularized by the 1989 Batman and 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. "This wasn't Snow White and the Seven Dinosaurs," Joffé said. "The dino world was dark. We didn't want to hold back."
Morton described the film as a prequel to the video games that tells the "true story" behind Nintendo's inspiration. Joffé viewed the games as a "mixture of Japanese fairy tales and bits of modern America," and wanted to create a "slightly mythic vision of New York." 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."
The concept of a parallel universe inhabited by dinosaurs was inspired by Dinosaur Land from the recently released Super Mario World. Jankel envisioned the parallel dimension as "[...]a whole world with a reptile point-of-view, dominated by aggressive, primordial behavior and basic instincts," while Morton considered the ecological and technological consequences of a dinosaur society that holds fossil fuels sacred. "It's a wonderful parody of New York and heavy industry," noted Joffé. "We call it the New Brutalism."
Screenwriters Parker Bennett and Terry Runté were tasked with balancing comedy with the darker tone: "Ghostbusters was the model," said Bennett. "We were aiming towards funny, but kind of weird and dark."
The intelligent Fungus was inspired by both the Mushroom Kingdom from the games and tabloid reports of a discovered gigantic fungus. Production Designer David Snyder recalled "As each script developed the fungus was sort of a metaphor for the mushroom element in a Nintendo game."
"For me a screenplay is never finished," said Joffé. "You work a screenplay all the time. When you bring actors in a screenplay goes through another evolution. So you can say that rather like the fungus in the movie the screenplay constantly evolves."
After securing the rights to the film, Lightmotive went to work finding the casting for the characters. Danny DeVito was offered both the role of Mario and the director's mantle. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Keaton were both approached to play Koopa. Tom Hanks was considered for Luigi, but a string of recent box-office failures dropped him from the running. Actors Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo were ultimately cast as Mario and Luigi.
Initially Hoskins didn't like the script and didn't want to do another children's film: "I'd done Roger Rabbit. I'd done Hook. I didn't want to become like Dick Van Dyke." Hoskins wondered how he would prepare for the role, saying "I'm the right shape. I've got a mustache. I worked as a plumber's apprentice for about three weeks and set the plumber's boots on fire with a blowtorch." Producer Roland Joffé kept submitting new script revisions until finally Hoskins agreed.
"Bob was a no brainer," said co-director Jankel. "Unabashed shameless physical type casting. Bob was brilliant at assuming the character, in a slightly amplified way that would be in keeping with his supposed subsequent game iteration."
"What I liked about the script was the adventure and the action that was involved," said Leguizamo. The actor also joked that "You always see a lot of Italians playing Latin people, like Al Pacino did in Scarface. Now it's our turn!"
"John was a brilliant up and coming stand-up comic and actor," said co-director Jankel. "We went to see him at Second City, and we were 100% sold. He had a wonderful combination of empathy and irreverence but was entirely without guile. It was not specifically scripted to be cast with a Hispanic or Latino actor, but it made perfect sense that the Mario Bros. themselves should be this contemporary unconventional family, so the small unit of just two, couldn't be pegged as one thing or another."
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.
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.
"I was locked out of the editing room," Morton said. "I had to get the DGA to come and help me get back into the editing room. I tried to get the editor to cut it digitally, but they refused. They wanted to edit on Moviola and Steenbeck machines, so the process was laboriously slow, which didn't help us get the special effect cut in on time."
Production Designer David Snyder approached turning the Mushroom Kingdom into the live-action setting of Dinohattan (also known as DinoYawk or Koopaville) by "[taking] all the elements that are in the video game" and "[turning] them into a metaphor and [combining] them with 3-D and real characters."
"Koopa gets a single glimpse of Manhattan at the beginning of the movie," according to Art Director Walter P. Martishius. This inspires Koopa to recreate Dinohattan, but "he didn't get it quite right. The place is twisted, off balance, different. And he doesn't even know it."
Co-producer Fred Caruso located the deserted Ideal Cement Co. plant in Wilmington, North Carolina. Snyder found the location a unique opportunity: "In this building, with all the existing concrete structure, we could hang the scenery from the structure, and not have to build scaffolding, and could integrate the concrete structure into the film's design."
Snyder went on to say "In Blade Runner, the street was one level. Here I have a street level, a pedestrian walkway and above that Koopa's Room, plus six or seven stories in height. I have more flexibility in layering of levels. It's a major, major opportunity. You'd never be able to do this on a sound stage. There isn't a sound stage big enough."
"We've designed this film with the idea of looking at New York while on some mind-altering drugs."
The intelligent Fungus was created from fishing lure base and hot glue by prop designer Simon Murton.
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.
Tatopolous described Yoshi as "an abstract, fantasy T. rex," and designed the baby dinosaur with large eyes to evoke a softer and less menacing quality. Lead SFX sculptor Mark Maitre compared Yoshi to a cross between "a Tyrannosaurus Rex and an iguana." 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. 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.
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. It was also the first film scanned with a digital intermediate, allowing for the compositing of over 700 visual effects shots.
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."
Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times said "It's a movie split in two: wildly accomplished on one level, wildly deficient on another." He graded the film high marks for its effects and the "sheer density and bravura of the production design," but ultimately provided a low final score for the poor writing. Janet Maslin of The New York Times also commended the film's visual effects, and suggested Bob Hoskins could "handle any role with grace and good humor," but concluded "it doesn't have the jaunty hop-and-zap spirit of the Nintendo video game from which it takes – ahem – its inspiration."
"The movie's no stinker," asserted Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune, who lauded Hoskins and Leguizamo for their brotherly dynamic and called the Goombas "wonderfully daffy supporting characters." Hal Hinson of The Washington Post likewise praised the film for its performances and creatures effects, and proclaimed "In short, it's a blast." This quote would later be used on the film's home media releases.
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, citing tonal inconsistency and lack of narrative, and the film was on their list for one of the worst films of 1993. Stephen Hunter of The Baltimore Sun thought Yoshi had "more personality than all the human actors put together."
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.
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. The film was re-released as a limited edition Blu-Ray steelbook by Zavvi in February 2017.
As of 2018, archive and fan website Super Mario Bros.: The Movie Archive is working with original VFX Supervisor Christopher F. Woods on a 4K resolution transfer and restoration for a future Region A release.
In a 2007 interview, 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 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.
Leguizamo prepared a video message for the film's 20th anniversary in 2013, saying "I'm glad people appreciate the movie," and that "It was the first, nobody had ever done it before."
Hopper was disparaging of the production, recounting in 2008: "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."
Mathis said in 2018 for the film's 25th anniversary "There are a lot of people who are really excited to meet me because I was Princess Daisy. That's all you can ask for as an actor—that your work, and something you were part of, left an impression on people and makes them feel good."
Co-director Morton reflected on the movie in 2016 as a "harrowing" experience. Morton 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, Morton is proud of the film's originality. Speaking with Game Informer for the film's 20th anniversary, Morton elaborated his vision: "I wanted parents to really get into it. At that time, there was a very hardcore movement against video games, and a lot of anti-video games sentiment. I wanted to make a film that would open it up and get parents interested in video games."
"I do feel in my heart, it was a hell of an achievement to have made it, under those circumstances, and it has in time, happily, achieved cult status," said co-director Jankel. "I am often hearing how many people loved it growing up, watch it repeatedly, and are genuine fans."
Despite its box office failure and troubled production, producer Joffé remains proud: "It's not that I defend the movie, it's just that, in its own extraordinary way, it was an interesting and rich artefact and has earned its place. It has strange cult status."
Joffé never heard what Yamauchi or Nintendo thought of the finished product. "They never phoned up to complain," he says. "They were very polite, Nintendo." 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."
Although not initially a success, Super Mario Bros. has nonetheless garnered an international cult following. Ryan Hoss formed archive and fansite Super Mario Bros.: The Movie Archive in 2007, saying to Playboy for the film's 25th anniversary that "I had this collection, and the internet was growing in terms of fansites during that era, the late '90s, and I always knew the Mario Bros. movie was misunderstood and a sore spot in people's minds—at least, the way it was being portrayed on the internet, the 'worst movie ever' kind of deal."
In 2010 Steven Applebaum joined the site as editor-in-chief to help collect production materials and organize interviews. "Most of the people were very happy about it because, at the time, it was a very revolutionary movie," said Applebaum. "They were introducing a lot of great special effects that hadn't been done before, and they had these really talented actors, and it was a project they were proud to work on. [...] Giving them a chance to talk about everything they did, it really helped them to share what they contributed and what they felt was important to the industry."
"It's a way to celebrate the film itself and showcase the work of all the people who had a part in it—warts and all, good and bad," says Hoss.
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.
The phrase "Trust the Fungus" from the film has been compared to "May the Force be with you" from Star Wars,:267 while Dr. Lori Norton-Meier wrote in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy that the film is "a tool that allows students to understand content in new and intellectually challenging ways."
In 2013, Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss teamed with one of the film's original screenwriters Parker Bennett on a webcomic sequel. Development on the sequel began after a 2010 interview in which Bennett admitted the sequel hook was more an homage to the ending of the original Back To The Future and was not a serious indication of a potential continuation. However, Applebaum and Hoss later asked Bennett what he would have done if given the opportunity and Bennett provided broad points about the consequences of the first film and the themes that they would have explored.
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. "We did heavily discuss the world of the film, from its backstory to the character's motivations," says Applebaum. Bennett provided general direction before "[passing] the torch" to Applebaum and Hoss.
On respecting the material and continuing the story, Applebaum said: "We have this understanding of who the characters were, what they were about, and what they would do in a given situation. Over time, the scenes just started to script themselves, and the dialogue came naturally."
|Super Mario Bros.|
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||May 10, 1993|
|Singles from Super Mario Bros.|
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.
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.
|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|
* These tracks were not included in the U.S. and Canada releases, only on the international versions of the album.
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".
Subsequent Mario film
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. On November 14, 2017, Universal Pictures and Illumination announced they will release a computer-animated Mario film. 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.
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