The moment The Super Mario Bros. Movie made bajillions of dollars and broke all sorts of animation box office records, the entire internet started asking, “Zelda when?” We seemingly got that answer last week with a report that Universal and animation studio Illumination, which made the Mario movie, were very close to closing a deal with Nintendo to begin developing a Zelda film as well — however, Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri now denies that this is true.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Meledandri told The Wrap. “I mean I can understand how people would surmise all sorts of things because obviously, we’ve had a great experience working together. My relationship with Nintendo now includes being on their board of directors, so I understand how people can surmise these things. But in terms of the specifics, that was just something that I’ve been hearing lots of rumors. This is just about what’s next between Nintendo and Illumination.”
Meledandri is clearly denying any work on a Zelda movie here but also directly admits that it’s an easy assumption to make that one could be coming. Considering the $1.3 billion success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Meledandri’s seat on Nintendo’s board, the two companies are clearly going to be working together more in the future. There’s also the small fact that Meledandri might be covering his own ass after an early leak. We know that Nintendo is incredibly skittish about leaks after the news that it canceled at least a couple projects, including a Zelda Netflix series, because the streamer couldn’t keep leaks from getting out. That would be a big reason for the CEO of Illumination to come out to do damage control on a Zelda movie so that Nintendo doesn’t go back into hiding from cinematic adaptations.
The question still exists if the studio is even the right one for a Zelda adaptation. Mario fits nicely into the family-friendly, meme-happy style of the studio, but Zelda is an entirely different beast. However, Illumination launched Moonlight last year with veteran animation producer Mike Moon to specifically push its content outside of the family realm, and a Zelda film would be a great first pic for the newly formed studio.