Super Mario Bros. (1993) Extended Cut – 30 years later

By Jose Anguiano – Cinematic Bandicoot

April 9th, 2023

With “The Super Mario Brothers Movie” in theaters, it’s only fitting to lookback on the film that birthed the video game adaptation curse.


“Super Mario Bros.” was the first video game adapted into a movie, and production was akin to “Saving Mr. Banks” in how long it took to get off the ground, as documented in the book “Lights, Camera, Game Over!: How Video Game Movies are Made” by Luke Owen, as well as the “What Happened?” series by YouTuber MattMcMuscles.

All of it was driven by creative differences.

After the success of the NES titles and “Super Mario World” on the SNES, several studios approached Nintendo about making a film adaptation. Nintendo chose the independent studio Light Motive who produced several low budget hits like “The Killing Fields”.

Several directors like Harold Ramis and Danny DeVito were considered to helm the movie but they declined without a script, though Ramis was a fan of the games.

Actors like Dustin Hoffman, DeVito and Tom Hanks were considered for the role of Mario but were either refused by Nintendo or film executives.

Hanks’s career suffered several box-office bombs which made his five-million-dollar paycheck uncompromisable.

This led to Bob Hoskins accepting the role right off the heels of 1988’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.

Actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Keaton were approached to play Bowser, but they both declined for unknown reasons.

After encouragement from his family, Dennis Hopper accepted the role.

“Rain Man” cowriter Barry Morrow, turned in a first draft, initially dubbed “Drain Man” by the executive for its similarities. After refusing to compromise on the script, Morrow left.

Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein wrote screenplay that was well received and inspired by “The Princess Bride”.. In fact, John Leguizamo and Samantha Mathis were cast as Luigi and Daisy after being impressed with said script.

But without a director the project could not proceed, until married couple Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel arrived following the success of the tv show “Max Headroom”.

Unfortunately, the duo hated Parker and Jennewein’s script and demanded rewrites, with Light Motive and Nintendo siding with them over everyone who approved the story. The directors threatened to walk away if they didn’t get their way, and thus everyone needed to assimilate with their dystopian vision of the Mushroom Kingdom.

The cast were not informed of these changes and were shocked when they realized what they were now starring in.

Both Hoskins and Leguizamo endured many injuries on set and turned to alcohol in order to cope with the daily practices.

Hopper stopped memorizing his lines that would eventually be changed and even spent hours ranting to the directors on how to act.

The film eventually went over budget due to the expensive computer effects and animatronics like Yoshi to the point where the directors were locked out of the editing room despite complaining to the Dircector’s Guild of America.

All the while, Nintendo was incredibly lenient with the directing choices.

Despite advertising the movie heavily, it ultimately fell into the shadow of Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park”, which sealed its box-office fate – more on that later.

Years later, an extended cut surfaced curtesy of Garret Gilchrist, who previously assembled “The Thief and the Cobbler: The Recobbled Cut”. The extended cut added a half-hour more content and replaced some scenes like the opening narration by Simpsons voice actor, Dan Castellaneta.

So, with such a troubled production, how did the final film turn out? And is there something more to it 30 years later?


The trailer was right about one thing – this ain’t no game because aside from a few musical cues, the outfits, and the names, this goes out of its way to shun fans who want a faithful recreation of their beloved fictional idols.

One could argue that this is “realistic” for the time given that comic book movies were in a similar situation, but even “Batman and Robin” kept some names and characteristics intact.

A lot of the imagination from the real world is traded for another fish out of water story, though thankfully in reverse compared to “”He-Man” or “The Smurfs”.

What did they do to the Goombas?!

And yet, there’s something bizarrely intriguing about this film, whether ironically or not. The way it turns the bright and colorful mushroom kingdom into a run-down New York City clone is just crazy enough to entice people who have never played the games.

In a way, this movie is so bad that it can be enjoyable for all the wrongs assumptions it makes about its source material.

Hopper obviously doesn’t care after going over all the production troubles, but his corniness has its charm as his take on Bowser feels like a mix between Dr. Evil from “Austin Powers” and Donald Trump.

For what it’s worth, Hoskins and Leguizamo fit their roles to a tee. Hoskins has the gruff of an older brother while Leguizamo has the naiveté of a younger sibling. When they’re interacting with one another, they feel like genuine siblings. Maybe the booze they drank on set

Some creatures that are supposed to be cute come off as unholy spawns of Satan.

Looking at you, Yoshi.
Looking at you, Yoshi.

Goombas went from short, mushroom shaped lackies to giant hulking bodies with tiny heads.

The special effects range from authentically amazing to mindbogglingly fake. Looking back, there are more puppets and practical effects than anticipated, but at a certain point the budget’s diminishing resource shows when the early 90’s digital effects take over.

“Super Mario Bros” is not the video game movie anyone is looking for if they want a faithful take of one of the biggest gaming franchises of all time. To put it bluntly, this Mario is a lie, and yet it’s also unique in the franchise’s history.

While the film goes out of its way to tick off fans and the story goes from confusing to downright unbearable, there is still something admirable about its shameless spirit.

If anyone is curious as to how far one can stray in an adaptation, where sober or drunk, look no further than here.

But to those who want a more colorful world of dinosaurs and mushroom people, this is not your movie.

As for the extended footage, it does not add much to the already bonkers liberties, though Gilchrist went out of his way to preserve the deleted footage.

But in this case, the theatrical edition is preferable if only to save a half hour of one’s life if they don’t take to the tone.

Pros: Hammy acting, bizarre dark direction, Bob Hoskins + John Leguizamo,

Cons: Questionable liberties, hammy acting, degrading effects, tonal inconsistentcy



“Super Mario Bros.” was both a critical and financial failure, causing Nintendo to think twice about lending their properties to movie studios.

Many films based on video games suffered the same fate – “Street Fighter”, “Wing Commander”, “Doom”, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation”, “Double Dragon”, “House of the Dead”, “Alone in the Dark” and many more under the supposed video game adaptation curse that has since fallen by the wayside with adaptations like “Castlevania”, “Detective Pikachu” and HBO Max’s “The Last of Us”.

According to Owen’s book, Hoskins claimed that it was the worst movie he ever made.

“It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent,” Hoskins said. “After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set – F***ing nightmare, F***ing idiots.”

Hoskins took that statement to grave when he passed away from pneumonia on Apr. 29th, 2014, although his son Jack remained a fan of his dad’s performance.

Hopper also discredited the movie saying that he only did it so that his son could have shoes, to which his son responded, “I don’t need shoes that badly.”

Hopper passed away on May 29th, 2010, from prostate cancer.

Leguizamo looked back more fondly on the experience in a video commending its 20th anniversary.

Jankel and Morton never directed another movie after production wrapped. They were blacklisted from Hollywood and divorced in 2005.

Overtime, the movie gained a cult following for being a so bad it’s good movie among gamers to the point where “The Super Mario Bros. Movie Archive” website was created to document the behind-the-scenes troubles.

Despite ending on an unresolved cliffhanger, the movie received a webcomic sequel in 2013.

Like a lot of games in the 80’s and 90’s, they didn’t lend themselves to stories like “The Last of Us” or “Ratchet and Clank”. Another problem was that those making the movies weren’t fans of the games in the first place, which makes their involvement that more questionable.

This repeated itself recently when the writers of the Paramount+ “Halo” series admitted that they did not playing the games. Can anyone imagine the same thing happened to “The Lord of the Rings”?

This is The Cinematic Bandicoot and the “Super Mario Bros.” movie is an example of everything that could’ve gone right if one little slip didn’t lead to a. It’s ironic that 30 years of bad adaptations are now coming full circle with Illumination’s take on the series. In other words, our good video game adaptation is in another castle.

Works Cited


Harris, Blake J. – Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation

Owen, Luke Lights, Camera, Game Over!: How Video Game Movies are Made

Ryan, Jeff- Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America


Super Mario Bros. Directed by Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, performances by Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, LightMovie, 1993.


Super Mario Bros.: The Movie Archive, Accessed 6 Apr. 2023.

Super Mario Bros. Webcomic Sequel:

YouTube Videos

Joblo Original – Super Mario Bros – WTF Happened To This Movie?:

Matt McMuscles – The Super Mario Brothers Movie: What Happened?:

– The Thief and the Cobbler: What Happened?:


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