Nintendo Plans On Making Movies Again, But What Franchises Do They Actually Own?

Nintendo Plans On Making Movies Again, But What Franchises Do They Actually Own?

Aug 24, 2015

Nintendo recently revealed that the company has finally gotten over the sting that was 1993's Super Mario Bros. and has now opened the door to letting more movies get made using the stable of video game characters it owns. Great news for people who love video game movies (or at least want them to keep getting made), but it doesn't mean that any game that you've ever played on a Nintendo is now up for grabs.

Since Nintendo is a developer, a publisher, and a game console manufacturer, their name has been associated with an innumerable amount of pop culture icons for several generations, but the actual properties they themselves own isn't quite so vast.

For example, Pokémon is most closely associated with Nintendo thanks to the Gameboy, but Nintendo doesn't actually own Pokémon (that'd be the creatively named The Pokémon Company). Likewise, Nintendo doesn't outright own the copyrights on some of their consoles' biggest hits over the decades, like Mega Man, Castlevania, Turok, Chrono Trigger, Battletoads, Double Dragon, or (gasp!) Super Smash Bros.

So what franchises does Nintendo own that they could turn into movies? That's easy.

Animal Crossing


Donkey Kong

Mario Bros. (including Mario Kart, Wario, Luigi, Yoshi and so on)

The Legend of Zelda

Super Metroid



Kirby's Adventure

That list is not exhaustive, but it does cover the major bases with movie potential (it's probably a safe bet we're not going to see a Wii Fit movie). Mario Bros. alone could power an entire cinematic universe thanks to the legion of characters and spin-off games that have come from it. It may not have the richest, most complicated story material ever conceived, but the breadth of its domain is wide, to say the least.

Unfortunately that story issue is one that plagues most of Nintendo's games. They have premises and backstories, sure, but the various entries in the Animal Crossing, Donkey Kong, Pikmin, Punch-Out!!, and Kirby franchises don't have enduring narratives that are just dying to be told on the big screen. 

On the story front they've got much richer material to mine with the world of Zelda, which has been one of those properties that gets rumored for a movie every few years. The most recent rumor actually had it getting a Netflix series, but there has been nothing close to official confirmation about that. And the same goes for Metroid, which has indeed tried to journey to the big screen a number of times before, most notably with John Woo planning to direct.

With Hitman: Agent 47 not exactly lighting up the box office this past weekend and Pixels thudding earlier this summer, it's hard to imagine that any Nintendo property is getting the fast track, but the company putting up the "open for business" sign is a measure of progress. There probably won't be any major news about a Metroid or Starfox movie for a while, but once one video game movie does finally hit it big (potential candidates are Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, and Metal Gear Solid, the latter of which actually first appeared on Nintendo), they'll at least be ready for the next gold rush on video games to turn into movies.


Categories: News, In Development, Geek
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