Apr 26, 2022 - Technology

Nintendo's delayed movie slows transformation

Illustration of yellow block with white question marks on it
Super Mario movie promotional artwork. Image: Nintendo

Nintendo has delayed its first major expansion into film in decades, with its animated Super Mario movie postponed from December 2022 to April 2023.

Why it matters: It’s the latest delay hitting the company’s biggest projects, some of which are set to reinvent the gaming giant.

  • The company’s expansion into theme parks, announced in 2015, was slowed by the pandemic, resulting in its Japan park opening late in 2021 and its U.S. ones still a ways off.
  • Nintendo’s most anticipated game, the sequel to 2017 hit The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, recently slipped from late 2022 to 2023.

What they’re saying: “My deepest apologies but I promise it will be well worth the wait,” Mario series creator Shigeru Miyamoto said in a tweet posted by Nintendo of America.

The delay creates distance from current and former Nintendo rivals Sony and Sega, whose "Uncharted" and "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" films this year were huge hits.

The big picture: Nintendo wants the movie and theme parks to show its potential as an entertainment powerhouse beyond games, a move it’s taken its time in attempting.

  • Nintendo has been famously — some investors might say stubbornly — focused on video games since the 1980s and generally ignored conventional wisdom about how it could or should branch out.
  • It has licensed its gaming icons like Mario for clothing, stuffed animals, even a breakfast cereal, but it had long declined to take the biggest swings (it probably didn’t help that its one Hollywood attempt, 1993’s "Super Mario Bros." movie, bombed).
  • But the company began expressing an openness to major non-gaming endeavors in the mid-2010s, as its successor to the hit Wii gaming console, the Wii U, flailed.

Between the lines: Nintendo has conditioned its massive fanbase, if not its stockholders, to be somewhat OK with delays.

  • News of the latest Nintendo delay tends to produce tweets and other online reactions citing the possibly apocryphal Miyamoto quote: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
  • Delays usually pay off, resulting in high-quality games that sell millions, but investors are forever bad at rushing to judgment.
  • Nintendo’s stock price dived twice in the past month: once for the Zelda game delay and then again today for the Mario movie.

What’s next: Nintendo will announce the results of its most recent fiscal year on May 10, which will also give it a chance to start filling in blanks about how it intends to fill out a late 2022 and early 2023 that have more holes than previously expected.

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