Will the upcoming Zelda film break the big screen video game curse?
It’s not as if we didn’t see it coming...
Following the huge success of this year's Mario movie, Nintendo’s first foray into producing movies, the Japanese company has announced it is planning to make a live-action film based on the hit video game The Legend of Zelda.
The movie, with financing from Sony Pictures Entertainment as well as its own investment, will be directed by American filmmaker Wes Ball - best known for the Maze Runner trilogy and the upcoming Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto will serve as a producer. He’ll be producing alongside Arad Productions Inc., which is behind the live-action Spider-Man films and headed by Avi Arad.
The move highlights Kyoto-based Nintendo’s successful strategy to leverage various aspects of its business, including theme parks, merchandising and movies, to boost machine and software sales, and vice versa.
Its animation film **The Super Mario Bros. Movie **has raked in more than $1.3 billion (€1.2 billion) and drew nearly 170 million people worldwide.
President Shuntaro Furukawa, briefing reporters online, said the company was pleased with the success of the Super Mario animation film, the first movie of which Nintendo was a direct producer.
Unlike the Mario movie, the Zelda film is live-action, meaning casting beloved characters such as the silent elf-like warrior Link, Zelda Princess of Hyrule, and the evil Ganon – something which will undergo a great deal of fan scrutiny.
The fervent anticipation has been bolstered by years of rumours. There was even a previously rumoured Netflix series which never came to pass – something bemoaned by fans, as series seem to fare better for video game adaptations compared to their big screen counterparts – with The Witcher and The Last Of Us being recent examples of successful adaptations.
Indeed, devotees of the series will be hoping that the movie will break the big screen video game curse, as previous film adaptations of popular games such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Doom, Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed, to mention but a few, have been panned by critics as well as fans.
Right now, it remains unclear which Zelda story will be explored in the upcoming film adaptation or whether it will be a brand new story altogether. No release date has yet been announced.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the Nintendo executive who has spearheaded the creative innovations at the company for decades, said it will be released only when it’s ready, while stressing that work on the project has been going on for a decade.
“I realize there are so many Zelda fans, and we cannot betray their expectations. That is a big hurdle. But we are ready,” said Miyamoto.
Nintendo reported this week an 18% rise in net profit for its first fiscal half, totalling nearly 271.3 billion yen (€1.6 billion), up from 230 billion yen a year earlier. Nintendo officials said the success of the Super Mario film has translated into bigger sales for its Switch machines, as well as for game software with Super Mario themes. The Super Mario Bros. Wonder game software, on sale since last month, has been selling at a record pace, they said, totalling 4.3 million games sold in just two weeks.
The latest Zelda game is 2023’s Tears of the Kingdom, which sold more than 10 million copies in its first three days. Nintendo is hoping the planned movie will benefit from the popularity of the game.