'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' delights fans with entertainment and nostalgia

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, April 7, 2023
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The 3D animated "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" debuted in China on Wednesday, delighting Chinese fans with a nostalgic and entertaining adaptation of Nintendo's iconic video game franchise.

An audience member poses with a Mario billboard at the premiere of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," held at the Universal CityWalk Cinema of Universal Beijing Resort on April 4, 2023. [Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures]

Fondly remembered by generations born in the 1980s and 1990s, the Super Mario video game series has become a cultural icon. The beloved franchise now returns to the big screen as a film produced by Illumination, Universal Pictures, and Nintendo. The film is directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, with a screenplay by Matthew Fogel. The voice cast features Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, and Fred Armisen.

The film presents the origin story of beloved brothers Mario and Luigi, Italian-American plumbers who are unexpectedly transported to an alternate world, caught in a fierce battle between the Mushroom Kingdom, led by the noble Princess Peach, and the Koopas, commanded by the notorious Bowser. The movie draws heavily on elements and inspiration from the relatively simple video game, expanding upon the source material while staying true to its roots, accompanied by a familiar musical score. The film is sure to delight both nostalgic adults and thrill-seeking children alike.

Following the critical and commercial disappointment of the 1993 live-action Mario film, Nintendo was initially reluctant to license its intellectual property for future film adaptations. However, during the company's partnership with Universal Parks & Resorts to develop Mario-themed attractions and Super Nintendo World, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto met Chris Meledandri, the founder of Universal Pictures' Illumination animation division. Their meeting sparked discussions about the possibility of creating a new Mario film, and in January 2018, Nintendo officially announced its collaboration with Illumination and Universal to produce the movie. Production began in 2020.

Illumination Studios Paris handled the film's animation, which started in September 2020 and concluded in October 2022. Director Jelenic noted that Illumination updated its lighting and rendering technology for the project, while Meledandri stated that the movie "pushed the technical and artistic capabilities of the studio to new heights."

A poster for "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." [Image courtesy of Universal Pictures]

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" has garnered immense global popularity, becoming an instant hit. The film, released in the United States and Canada on Wednesday, is projected to gross around $125 million in North America during its five-day opening weekend and approximately $100 million internationally. Since its debut on April 5 in China, coinciding with the Qingming Festival, the film has already grossed over 36 million yuan ($5.2 million) as of Friday. It also received a high score of 8.1/10 on China's review aggregator website Douban and 9.4/10 on China's ticketing platform Maoyan.

Universal Pictures has launched an extensive marketing campaign to promote the movie in China featuring a premiere at Universal Beijing Resort, large billboards, subway decorations, and the trailer playing on giant outdoor screens in various Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The film's materials have also been showcased at several stops of the Strawberry Music Festival, with all these promotional efforts aimed at reigniting the passion and nostalgia of Chinese fans.

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