The video game industry storms the screen

“This is bullshit!” A few weeks after the chaotic shooting of ‘Super Mario Bros.’ the actor Dennis Hopper lashed out at the directors for their constant script changes. The moviereleased in 1993, was not a reliable adaptation of the popular videogame of Nintendo, but a crazy cyberpunk reinterpretation with flesh and blood interpreters. The narrative disaster was of such magnitude that the two leading actors, bob hoskins and John Leguizamo, they got drunk on the ‘set’ to drown their frustration and the first one almost killed himself. “She was a fucking nightmare,” the former acknowledged years later. The project foundered on ticket officeraising only 39 million dollars after having cost 48. His failure was one of the most famous in the recent history of cinema.

Three decades later, the most famous plumber in the pop culture He has redeemed himself in style. With only three days on the screen, ‘Super Mario Bros.: The Movie’ has become the film of animation highest grossing in history, surpassing ‘Frozen 2‘ and garnering a total of 377.5 million globally, according to Deadline.

Thought for the fans

This success is anchored in a strategy diametrically opposed to the one followed in the nineties. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser and the others are part of a creative universe that, since its birth in 1985, has sold 400 million video games and generated some 22,000 million dollars. The new film has eschewed the narrative flourishes to stick faithfully to the wildly popular source material, working side by side with Shigeru Miyamotovideo game designer, and koji kondooriginal composer of his music.

Thus, it has chosen to be more than anything an exercise in nostalgia dedicated to satisfying the fans. And he has done it. On Rotten Tomatoes, the reference film portal, it has a score of 96%. It does not matter if for criticism it is a scratched pass. “The film follows the philosophy of the video game and is full of winks for the fans, but at the same time it generates its own coherent universe to be able to create new stories,” says Albert Mompel, a fan of the saga and a Nintendo collector.

From disaster to success

Although the big video game studios have been resorting to hollywood to adapt his most famous works, the success of Super Mario it is seen as the consolidation of the alliance between both industries. Nintendo, the world’s most influential video game company, was the first to bring its intellectual property to the big screen in 1993. However, the fiasco that that entailed led it to take a step back. The strategy has changed. The film’s box office triumph suggests that the Japanese giant may follow in the footsteps of franchises Marvel, Star Wars (both purchased by Disney) either DC Comics (property of Warner Bros) to expand their narrative universes into new formats. In fact, there is already speculation about a second part of Mario’s adventures that has not yet been confirmed.

Nintendo’s bet certifies a growing trend within the industry of ‘gaming‘ at a time when the Superheros start to cause fatigue. A few years ago, adapting video games to the cinema was a synonym of failure. The different versions of ‘Street Fighter‘(1994),’Tomb Rider‘ (2001-2018), ‘Doom (2005), ‘silent hill‘(2006),’hit man (2007) and ‘Mortal Kombat‘ (1995-2021) prove it. The second wave that we are experiencing now is more mature, with solvent projects such as ‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu‘ (2019), ‘sonic (2020), ‘Uncharted (2022) or ‘sonic 2‘ (2022). The last two managed to be among the 15 largest blockbusters from last year.

Few recent successes between public and critics have been as resounding as ‘The Last of Us‘. This post-apocalyptic video game was a sales phenomenon when it was released a decade ago and it has been again now as a series. The first season has accumulated an audience of 30.4 million viewers, being the biggest success of HBO from the final season of ‘Game of Thrones‘. Similar case is that of ‘Arcane‘, acclaimed animated series based on the universe of League of Legends. Although Riot Games He pushed it to attract new players, winning four Emmys along the way.

economic symbiosis

This succession of successes —in both quantitative and qualitative terms— opens the door to greater cooperation between the gaming industry and the audiovisual world. On one hand, the transmedia storytelling allows game studios to broaden and deepen their fictional narratives, adapting them to new formats. In turn, this multiplatform strategy opens the door to a diversification of your business. On the other, the film production companies and the platforms of ‘streamingThey see a safe bet in financing projects based on videogames with millions of users around the world.

This symbiosis explains why there are currently more than 60 productions based on videogames underway, including films from Minecraft and Metal Gear Solid or the series of final fantasy and god of war, the latter for Amazon Prime Video. There is no magic formula for success. A report from the analysis firm Newzoo points out that the intellectual property of video games is growing “as transmedia becomes more relevant”, which suggests that this multiplatform trend will continue. In the coming years, the audiovisual industry can do with videogames what it has already perfected with the comic.

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