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Nintendo may plan to get serious about Hollywood and animated films. The company today nominated Illumination chief executive officer Chris Meledandri as a new outside director. This is a role on the board of directors for people who don’t work at Nintendo.

Meledandri oversees Illumination, which is the animation studio responsible for Despicable MeMinions, and The Grinch. The animation firm is also working on the upcoming Super Mario film, which it is planning to release in 2022.

So Nintendo is already working closely with Meledandri. Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa confirmed that tight collaboration recently.

“It’s not that we’ve asked Illumination to handle everything,” Furukawa told Fast Company last month. “[Mario creator Shigeru] Miyamoto is very, very hands-on with the production of this movie.”

But now that relationship between Nintendo and Meledandri is expanding. And while Nintendo did not provide a public reason for this outside-director choice, the motivation seems obvious. Meledandri can advise Nintendo about how to best approach adapting its games into films.

Nintendo has kept Hollywood at more than arms length for decades. The company’s skepticism of film and television stems from a bad experience that resulted in 1993’s Super Mario Bros.

But during the lean years of the struggling Wii U console, Nintendo began softening its stance about exploiting its characters. The company ramped up its licensing business, which has led to an increase in merchandise sales. But it also began talking with production companies about film adaptations. That included alleged talks with Netflix about a show based on The Legend of Zelda.

For its part, Hollywood is desperate for major properties to adapt for film and TV. The rise in streaming services has only amplified that demand.


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