Illumination Entertainment’s animated Super Mario Bros. Movie has now been confirmed as the highest grossing video game-to-film adaptation. As reported by The Numbers, the film has made nearly USD $693 million so far. With the film relatively early in its theatrical run, one can assume it will continue to climb substantially in the near future.
This report means that The Super Mario Bros. Movie has overtaken Legendary Pictures’ 2016 Warcraft adaptation, the previous record-holder at $439 million, and Detective Pikachu coming shortly afterwards at $433 million. The next highest grossing video game movies on the list include the Dwayne Johnson-starring 2018 Rampage adaptation and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
There are many reasons that The Super Mario Bros. Movie has managed to succeed where many previous attempts at game adaptations have failed. If nothing else, it is incredibly faithful to the source material, directly carrying over character designs and soundtrack nods, particularly in comparison with the Bob Hoskins-led 1993 live-action film. The all-star voice cast and potentially Oscar-nominated song also can’t have hurt.
At any rate, this success will have some significant implications for the future of game-to-film adaptations. Despite mixed reviews, clearly Illumination Entertainment’s recipe has been successful, and we may see more game adaptations following its lead in targeting younger audiences, eschewing live-action for animation and going for a broad appeal with famous voice casts and the use of recognisable licensed music.
It also means we’re pretty much guaranteed more Mario Bros. sequels and spin-offs, such as a Luigi-led spin-off which has reportedly already been greenlit. That said, we can expect at least some variety in game adaptations overall, with The Last of Us Season 2 also in production at HBO, which we can safely say is targeting a very different market. Whatever the case, video game adaptations have entered a new golden age, and we will be sure to see more of them in the future.