Remember the Super Mario Bros. movie? It’s understandable if you don’t, it came out in 1993 to pretty much universally negative reviews. But it’s a bizarre, quirky movie and notable because of its attempt to adapt a narrative-light game series to film. Understandably, the director of the movie, Rocky Morton, stated in a recent interview with SciFiNow that its production was pretty much a disaster, but Morton is nonetheless proud that he managed to create something unique.
Super Mario Bros. takes substantial creative license to make a narrative from a 2D platformer without any story. Starring Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) and John Leguizamo (Ice Age), the film features an alternate reality story in which dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct, and Mario and Luigi must fight the dinos’ descendants in order to rescue Mario’s love interest (Daisy).
But according to Morton, the story of the two plumbers that ended up in the film wasn’t what he originally had in mind. He had created a script that, with only a few weeks left before filming, the studio came to Morton and rejected. “It was an independent film and the producers needed more money and a studio behind them, and the studios rejected the script because they thought it was too dark,” he said. “That threw them into complete panic, and… they threw it out and told us to work with a new writer. The new writer wrote it in about a week and a half and then we were presented with the script… We were given a script that was completely different, and Annabel and I almost walked off the film at that point.”
Unfortunately for Morton, the start of filming only brought more trouble. When asked whether or not directing Super Mario Bros. was tough, Morton replied, “Tough? That’s a very mild word. It was a harrowing experience. I mean, we had five units working every day… We had this enormous set that was built with not enough money to light it… I’d ask for a crane to put the camera on, you know, because we’re making a movie, and there wasn’t any money for a crane for a movie that size!”
Morton also had to work with Dennis Hopper, an actor known for being difficult to cooperate with. Morton agreed, saying, “That was really, really hard. Really hard. I don’t think he had a clue what was going on.”
Super Mario Bros. is a strange film, and it did not do great at the box office, nor with critics. Even Bob Hoskins himself said that it was a nightmare to work on. However, it has become something of a cult hit, producing a fanbase and even warranting a re-release on Blu-ray in the UK.
Nintendo, for its part, seems to be approaching films a little more carefully now. Recently, Nintendo announced that it would be getting serious about filmmaking, even taking on projects itself rather than just licensing out its properties. There’s no word yet on what sort of film it might make.