Video games 'blending' with film, says 'Mario' movie producer

Video games 'blending' with film, says 'Mario' movie producer

Chris Meledandri's Illumination studio made over $4.4 billion with the 'Despicable Me' franchise before turning its attention to Nintendo's Mario
Chris Meledandri's Illumination studio made over $4.4 billion with the 'Despicable Me' franchise before turning its attention to Nintendo's Mario. Photo: VALERIE MACON / AFP
Source: AFP

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Having created the most successful animated franchise of all time with "Despicable Me" and its spin-off "Minions" films, producer Chris Meledandri knows a thing or two about blockbuster movies.

After a six-year collaboration with Nintendo to create "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," the founder of Illumination studio has now been steeped in the even more lucrative world of video games -- and he says the barrier between it and film is disappearing.

"I think there's a natural evolution to the lines being blurred," Meledandri told AFP.

"You begin to see games with real-time rendering having such power that you're seeing a level of visual imagery in games that's just stunning.

"You're seeing games that integrate narrative in very effective ways. You're seeing a crossover in terms of artists working in both spaces."

With the release in theaters this week of the eagerly awaited "Mario" movie, Meledandri's Illumination studio is the latest to try bridge the gap.

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Having made the $4.4 billion-grossing "Despicable Me" franchise, the Paris-based studio was able to convince A-list movie stars including Chris Pratt and Jack Black to lend their voices to Nintendo's beloved cast.

Still, it could be seen as a gamble given the checkered history for computer game adaptations, which stems back to 1993's original "Super Mario Bros." movie.

That live-action fantasy was a commercial and critical flop, but Meledandri said it was "just not something that we ever focused on" while planning the new film.

"I can't think of any conversation about the 1993 movie. Maybe it came up three times," he said.

Since then, a small but growing number of crossover hits have included movies "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and "Warcraft," alongside Netflix's Emmy-winning animated series "Arcane" and HBO's recent "The Last of Us."

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"We're so quick to speak to trends. But trends are just a collection of individual experiences," he said.

While many video game-adaptation flops have seen Hollywood wrest creative control away from franchises' original creators, basing movies on games is "perfectly viable" if film producers collaborate, said Meledandri.

"If people continue to do it in the way that they've done it in the past, I think it's gonna be harder for them to make strong films."

Still, while cinematic elements are increasingly common in video games, there is little evidence that the interactivity of games can successfully translate to film or television.

"Very talented people" like Charlie Brooker have dabbled with interactivity in shows such as "Black Mirror," which had an episode titled "Bandersnatch" that let viewers make choices that influenced the story, noted Meledandri.

"It's one of those notions that has captivated people for many years, but fundamentally I think it's much more difficult to achieve," said Meledandri.

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Source: AFP

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