Nintendo's much anticipated return to movies could finally materialize soon, as the Wall Street Journal reports that the Switch maker is nearing a deal with Illumination Entertainment that would see the studio create a Super Mario Bros. animated feature film.
Illumination, best known as the studio behind Despicable Me, Minions, and The Secret Life of Pets, has reportedly been working on a deal with Nintendo for over a year. According to the paper, the most difficult part of the negotiation has been coming up with a framework where Nintendo feels it has enough creative control over the project. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has been directly involved in the negotiations, and is expected to be a producer on any such film, along with Illumination head Chris Meledandri.
Last year, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said the company was in discussions with various partners for movie projects. Illumination may have had a leg up in any such talks as it is co-owned by Universal Pictures, with whom Nintendo already has a partnership for multiple Nintendo attractions at its theme parks around the world.
As for when a Mario movie would likely arrive in theaters, it may be a matter of years. Illumination's Paris studio Mac Guff has already begun work on the film, according to the report, but is still in the early stages of development. And while the partnership is only said to cover one film for certain, it might allow Illumination to make multiple Mario movies should the first prove successful.