Happy March 10th, or as we video game fans like to call it, Mar10 Day! Mario has been a pop culture icon since his introduction in 1981’s Donkey Kong, and Nintendo is not showing any signs of retiring the popular galaxy saving plumber anytime soon. Mario and his friends have appeared in video games, cartoon shows, comic books, all kinds of merchandise, and who can forget the 1993 Super Mario Brothers movie?
The movie came out when I was 7, so naturally, my dad took me to see it in theaters. I don’t remember much about the movie, and my dad was just as confused as I was. It wouldn’t be until 3 years later while watching the movie on HBO when it would click for me — this movie was bad, but it was also impossibly fun to watch.
Of course, the addition of (the greatest band of all time) Roxette’s Almost Unreal sold me on the movie. The song was originally for the Bette Midler film Hocus Pocus but landed in Super Mario alongside another Roxette song, 2 Cinamon Street. Singer and writer Per Gessle felt hopeful of the movie as it starred Bob Hoskins …but then he watched the movie.
A Super Flop
Super Mario Brothers is accepted as being a flop, and one of the worst video game adaptations of all time. With nearly 30 years in our rearview on this film maybe we should give it another shot. The movie, the soundtrack, and the subsequent merchandise shouldn’t be looked at with nostalgia goggles, but rather looked at for what it is: the first feature-length movie based on a video game.
The Super Mario Brothers Movie was released on May 28, 1993, and was immediately met with a lukewarm reception. Fans of the game were shocked at the creative liberties taken with many of the iconic characters and the plot of the movie felt like the work of someone who had only seen the video game on the shelf and never actually played it.
Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo play the titular plumber brothers, who are on the verge of going out of business thanks to a rival company. During this time Luigi meets archeology student Daisy, falls for her after one date, and then drags his brother Mario into the alter dimension of Dinohattan after Daisy is kidnapped by President Koopa’s goons.
In all fairness, this is in the same vein as most Mario video games.
It’s Still an Iconic First
Yet, this movie is still an important piece of video game history. This is the first full-length feature film based on a video game, and it was released at the height of the video game wars between Nintendo, Sega, and eventually Sony.
You can also argue that this was released at the height of Mario’s popularity in the 1990s — prior to the movie, there was a popular Super Mario Brothers show that blended live-action with animation, Mario comics could be found in comic shops, and there were a number of Mario games for the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and GameBoy — and let’s not forget about all of the toys. Making a Mario movie just made sense.
The end of the film also had an open ending, meaning a sequel was likely thrown around at some point. A “sequel” did eventually come via a fanmade webcomic thanks to superfans Ryan Hoss, Steven Applebaum, and one of the movie’s original screenwriters, Parker Bennett. Hoss and Applebaum run the Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive, and keep the fandom and spirit of the movie alive thanks to the site.
While there isn’t much out there in terms of collectibles compared to other Mario properties, original movie posters usually command $30-60 in auctions, while the soundtrack averages $20 for both CD and cassette. VHS releases usually fare better in collectors circles, with the demo tape for video retailers going for an average of $50 in good shape. Action figures based on the movie are where the money seems to be, with loose and board-backed toys routinely selling for $20-$60. With VHS becoming the next big collector’s thing, copies of Super Mario Bros will most likely go up in value — especially factory sealed or graded copies.
At the end of the day, this movie is worth watching again. Nintendo did announce a new animated Mario movie will be coming out in 2022, and with Universal Studios Tokyo (and soon, Orlando) opening up a Mario-themed land in their parks, Mario is once again at a new height of his popularity. So happy Mar10 everyone! No matter how you celebrate the plucky little plumber, make sure you have fun.
*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect investment advice on behalf of GoCollect.