Here's Where Nintendo Stands on Making Movies

"Video content is a really interesting area for us," says Shigeru Miyamoto.


Nintendo has made it clear in recent years it's repositioning itself as a broader entertainment company, and on a number of occasions it's even discussed the prospect of making movies. During a recent meeting with shareholders, the subject came up once again, and Nintendo's management team provided some insight into its current thinking on the subject. In short: It isn't necessarily looking to make movies, though it is open to pursuing video content.

"First let's talk about the video business," Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima said during the Q&A. "It's less a venture into the movie business, and more a question of how we can utilize the Nintendo IP in video content as part of the broader effort to put our IP to practical use. If anyone wants to partner with us, we'll hold discussions. The fact that there are many interested parties is something we've already mentioned."

Part of the question Kimishima was responding to also asked about the manpower needed for new projects, be it the company's new system, NX, or the expansion of its IP.

"People are our most valuable management resource, and it is important to give employees opportunities to develop their skills and achieve personal growth," he continued. "But when it comes to business in a completely new field, it is essential that we build relations with external partners."

Shigeru Miyamoto also chimed in on the subject as someone who's dealing with this expansion.

"Video content is a really interesting area for us," he said. "Going forward, it is extremely important for Nintendo to move beyond the limits of game systems and make good use of its character resources in order for Nintendo not to be forgotten. Nintendo has a variety of characters. That one company has all the rights to so many characters is something that is recognized as unprecedented."

The real star of 1993's live action Super Mario Bros.
The real star of 1993's live action Super Mario Bros.

Recent comments from Nintendo made it sound like it was on the verge of making a movie. Miyamoto tempered expectations on that front, stating, "To avoid any misunderstandings, we have never said that we will produce a movie.

"We have talked about our expansion into video and other areas, but we are not saying anything official about the details," he continued. "What I can say is that video is one of the business areas where Nintendo is making good use of its IP.

"Three years ago I created an about 20-minute video content of Pikmin's short movie, and just recently I made a 15-minute PR movie for Star Fox Zero. These were made in association with video production companies. We can make video content by mostly leveraging the knowledge and capabilities of outside companies. For the production of those two short films, I was basically the only person from Nintendo involved.

"Nintendo needs to make a lot more products, but when a company gets too big, it faces continual problems nurturing its employees. Besides video content, we have begun to provide Nintendo characters for theme park attractions through a basic agreement with Universal Parks & Resorts. By working on development with others outside of Nintendo, I am working actively to expand the number of Nintendo products. These projects will take time to bear fruit, but they are something to look forward to."

Kimishima pointed to Nintendo's partnership with DeNA as another example of working with an outside company to further expand the use of its IP--although in that case it's to make mobile games, not videos. He also at one point made it clear there are no limitations on which of Nintendo's IP will be leveraged for that purpose. "In future support for smart devices, if we have a good plan, we will make active use of any of our Nintendo IP without restriction," he said.

Nintendo has said previously how kids are increasingly discovering Nintendo games and characters not through games, but things like Mario toothbrushes. The company has already made Amiibo figures a key pillar of its business, and it looks like Nintendo's future will bring with it more, not fewer, ventures that aren't explicitly tied to games.

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