Is Nintendo finally starting to loosen up? It took the company 30 years to make another big Mario movie after the 1993 live-action flick got two thumbs down from Siskel and Ebert, but hey, it went just fine: Jack Black did a song and lots of money was made. Now Nintendo is really letting loose: It announced today that it's making a live-action Zelda movie.
My first thought is: Man, that could really blow! It could be great and all, but casting human faces as Link and Zelda and having them gallop through Hyrule, a land known for sexy sharks and rock people, feels a lot riskier than a hey-do-you-remember-the-'90s CGI Mario comedy.
The Zelda movie will be produced by Nintendo creative overseer Shigeru Miyamoto and prolific superhero film producer Avi Arad, whose credits include Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Iron Man, and the Blade movies, as well as videogame movies Uncharted and the upcoming Borderlands movie. The film will be directed by Wes Ball, director of the Maze Runner trilogy and the upcoming Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.
Nintendo says it's financing more than 50% of the Zelda movie's production—it hasn't loosened up so much that it would just let anyone creatively control a film adaptation of one of its most beloved series, of course.
"By getting deeply involved in the movie production with the aim to put smiles on everyone's faces through entertainment, Nintendo will continue its efforts to produce unique entertainment and deliver it to as many people as possible," the company said.
The reason I wonder whether Nintendo is becoming more open-minded with its games is, of course, because it'd be cool if Nintendo started releasing them on PC one day—for now we have to rely on hobby emulation projects to play them.
It's a stretch, I admit, to imagine that Nintendo's renewed interest in blockbuster filmmaking (there was also the live-action Detective Pikachu in 2019) means it could be thinking bigger about the platforms it supports, but there's peer pressure, too. Surely even ol' Nintendo has noticed that all of its competitors are making money on PC.
Either way, I love an audacious videogame movie adaptation, be it a PC game or not, and Zelda's one of those I can't imagine not enjoying even if it's awful. How could I not want to see a big-budget attempt to turn a kid who holds out his sword and spins in circles into a movie hero? Some of the other upcoming game movies, like the Borderlands one, will have to actually be good to matter, because who cares about a mediocre movie about people shooting guns at each other? Show me da sexy shark.
I'm sure it'll be a while before we see anything else related to the Zelda movie. The Borderlands movie was announced over eight years ago and isn't out until next year. The most recent movie-based-on-a-game to release was Five Nights at Freddy's, which went through multiple scripts and directors during nearly a decade of development and production. It takes as long to get a game movie out as it does a game, it seems.
There are other huge game series with movies in development that you'd be forgiven for forgetting about, since they spend so long in development: Portal, BioShock, and Metal Gear Solid are a few of the big'uns.