‘Super Mario,’ ‘Pac-Man’ are America’s most-wanted video game movies

Hollywood is “powering-up” for even more video game franchise films.

Following the somewhat beleaguered success of Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which has collected more than $200 million at the global box office since its Feb. 14 release, a new poll by Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult suggests that 25% of Americans are indeed eager to see more video game characters on the big screen.

While Hollywood has a long history of video game adaptations, the interest has ramped-up in recent years as the US gaming industry is forecasted to rake in over $300 billion by 2025, according to a 2019 GlobalData report. Last year alone saw some major video game-based productions come to light,  including Warner Bros.’ “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” and Netflix’s “The Witcher.” This year, Sony is planning the release of two more game-inspired films: “Uncharted,” starring Tom Holland, and “Monster Hunter,” with model-actress Milla Jovovich leading.

According to the new poll, Nintendo’s “Super Mario Bros.” and Namco’s “Pac-Man” are the two potential video game adaptations most sought by US moviegoers. The poll, conducted from Feb. 21-23 with 2,200 American adults responding, found that 44% were “very” or “somewhat” interested in a film based on Nintendo’s most popular franchise, which debuted on its entertainment system console in 1983.

That game, of course, about a pair of overalls-clad plumbers who travel to magical worlds through the sewers of New York to save a princess, has already been re-created for screens big and small. Most notably, the characters were brought to life in 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.” movie, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Italian-American plumbers Mario and Luigi. The critically panned film brought in only $20.9 million at the box office and was inexplicably unfaithful to the original game storyline.

But Hollywood is giving the titular brothers another shot at success with a brand new animated film, called simply “Mario.” Announced back in 2018, the new feature, by “Despicable Me” studio Illumination, is scheduled for release in 2022, with no cast announcements to date.

Both “Pac-Man” and Nintendo’s “Mario Bros.”-spinoff game, “Mario Kart,” tied for No. 2 with 37% of survey participants responding as “very” or “somewhat” interested in either adaptation.

“There’s a strong consumer appetite for film adaptations from video games, which spells good news for studios looking to tap into the billion-dollar gaming industry,” said Tyler Sinclair, vice president of Morning Consult, a market research company. He tells The Hollywood Reporter, “Among both the general public and more dedicated gamers, our polling shows live-action movie adaptations most in demand include Super Mario Brothers, Pac-Man and Mario Kart.”

Other games landing in the top five include “Donkey Kong,” “Grand Theft Auto” and “Call of Duty,” which has a film in the works — albeit at a standstill, according to Games Radar. In a recent interview with the film’s director Stefano Sollima on Italian entertainment site Bad Taste, he told the outlet that a “Call of Duty” flick “is no longer … priority.”

“So, trivially, it has stood still, which happens quite frequently there in America,” he added.

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