Super Mario Bros. (partially lost deleted scenes of Nintendo game based film; 1993)
Super Mario Bros. is a 1993 action-adventure film, and the first Hollywood adaptation of a video game. It was distributed by Buena Vista through their Hollywood Pictures division, and produced by Lightmotive and Allied Filmmakers.
The film famously deviated from the Nintendo property it was based on, due to the creative freedom Hiroshi Yamauchi of Nintendo granted producer Roland Joffé. Seeking to create something more "adult" and fun for the whole family, the production changed from a fairly faithful adaptation into a more loosely inspired one. With British filmmakers Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel on board, the tone of the movie became a little too politically satirical and gritty for Buena Vista's taste - resulting in a clash of visions during principal photography.
Throughout production changes were improvised on the fly, and the final product resembled little of what Morton and Jankel envisioned in the first place. Upon release, most contemporary critics wrote off the film off due to the rising concern of how video games were impacting children. As a result, reviews were incredibly polarizing - some praised the performances and visual effects, while others felt it was a hectically paced cash grab. The harshest critics were perhaps Mario fans themselves, who were mostly confused by the end results. However, over time Super Mario Bros. has gained a considerable cult following, with many appreciating the fact that it did take such a unique spin on the games, despite all its flaws.
About the Production/Changes
In the early 1990s, Disney, Universal, and many other film studios were battling for the film rights to Super Mario Bros. from Nintendo. Film director and producer Roland Joffé flew over to Nintendo's headquarters in Kyoto to meet Hiroshi Yamauchi. Although he only could offer a small sum compared to what the studios proposed, Yamauchi sealed a deal with Joffé - $2 million dollars for his production company Lightmotive to obtain the film rights, in exchange for Nintendo securing complete ownership of merchandising. What attracted Yamauchi creatively to Roland Joffé's approach was promise of a darker, more mature vision of Super Mario, focusing on the loving relationship between the brothers.
Initially, Roland Joffé and his production partner Jake Eberts invested 10 million dollars in a screenplay by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker; this script was overall faithful to the whimsical, fairytale-like qualities of the games. Greg Beeman was attached to direct, but after his newest film at the time Mom and Dad Save the World bombed, the producers got cold feet. Beeman was let go right before the production was slated to begin, and Joffé had trouble finding another director. Harold Ramis, among other names, passed on the opportunity as they found the screenplay too conventional and unenticing.
Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel were brought on due to their familiarity with Super Mario and their specialties with computer graphics. However, they requested a new script be written based on their darker, more adult vision akin to Tim Burton's Batman. Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais penned a screenplay approved by the directors, which was storyboarded and all the sets were designed around.
Since Joffé and Eberts had invested so much into Beeman's version of the film, the production was over budget by the time principal photography was about to begin. Wanting to attract a distributor to further finance the film, a new, watered-down draft was secretly written by Ed Solomon. No one knew about the new script until the first day of shooting, which infuriated Morton as he burned the previous storyboards outside on the lot.
For the first while of principal photography, Morton and Jankel sought to salvage their vision. Parker Bennett and Terry Runté provided daily rewrites to bring back elements of the previous drafts. The shoot continued with more adult themes and imagery until Buena Vista secured distribution rights to the film. From there on out, the producers and Buena Vista requested further scenes be toned down for a family audience, while they planned to cut much of the risqué imagery in the editing room later.
Once Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel's contract expired, the second and third units finished up the remaining footage needed to complete the film. During post-production, Morton and Jankel were locked out of the editing room. Morton had to involve the DGA to force themselves back in.
About the Leaked Workprint
In May 2019, an eBay user named enjovu listed countless items for sale from the estate of Roland Joffé. Among his catalogue was a VHS tape labelled "Super Mario Bros. Cut Footage 12-1 Version." The tape was acquired by Echoes, a preservationist. After getting into contact with the Super Mario Bros. Movie Archive, the existence of said tape was announced to the public on May 15th, 2019.
The label suggests this specific cut of the film dates back to December 1st, 1992 - as all the digital VFX had not been created yet (besides a single shot of Koopa's eye-turning lizard) and a number of late reshoots (such as Lance Henriksen's cameo as King Bowser) were absent. Echoes digitized the tape on May 28th, 2019 - the 26th anniversary of the film. Throughout the following year, several clips were shared on the SMB Movie Archive's YouTube channel, as the team continued to commission several more captures of the tape in order to restore the footage.
Christian Deitering (Mother to Earth producer, SMB Movie prop exhibit coordinator) and Skip Elsheimer (AV Geeks) provided a handful of new captures which were sent forward to filmmaker and editor Garrett Gilchrist. In 2020, Gilchrist began work on restoring the footage frame-by-frame using Photoshop, Remini, and EB Synth. A commentary of his restoration process was published on the SMB Movie YouTube.
On June 1st, 2021 Gilchrist uploaded his extended cut of the film early to Internet Archive, as a response to a low-quality reddit leak of Echoes' rip of the tape. Dubbed, "The Morton and Jankel Cut", the edit was subject to some criticism as some of the creative choices did not reflect Morton and Annabel's vision. Regardless, the technical achievements in independently restoring the low-quality VHS footage was positively received. A number of months later, Gilchrist's original upload was removed from the Internet Archive, but third-party sources have preserved it with another reupload.
Four months later on October 6th, Umbrella Entertainment released Super Mario Bros. on Blu-ray in Australia, featuring the original rough cut as a special feature on the disc. This also marked the first region-free Blu-ray release of the film.
The following year on September 26th, 2022, Echoes uploaded the raw rip of his original transfer of the tape to Internet Archive.
In July 2023, it was announced a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray will be released by Umbrella Entertainment. The 4K is currently planned to include a brand new restoration of the deleted scenes.
Koopa Tracks Down Daisy's Mother
Status: Partially Found
The film originally began with no animated dinosaur prologue, with the scene of The Queen dropping Daisy off at the nun's doorstep opening the film. This original version of the scene featured Koopa wandering the surface, stalking The Queen. The first shot as seen in the workprint is a closeup of Koopa's shoes, and his shadow cast against a wall. The teaser trailer also shows Koopa turning his head towards the camera. All of this was cut in the theatrical version, where Koopa ambushes The Queen in the sewers.
Mario Bros. Enter the Riverfront Café
Right after the tracking shot of the Scapelli van, Mario and Luigi would enter the Riverfront café. Inside, they were to find two Scapelli plumbers, Doug and Mike attempting to scam the café owner Pascal into hiring them for a two-day job. Mario tries to convince Pascal it should only take two hours to fix a dishwasher, in order to expose Doug and Mike's misdeed.
Mario Confronts Doug and Mike
After the scene introducing Daisy and Scapelli at the dig site, another scene in the Riverfront café took place. Mario confronts Doug and Mike in the kitchen, revealing he's known Scapelli his whole life and isn't intimidated by him. Mike silently threatens Pascal to hire Scapelli under the pressure of potential mob connections, leaving the Marios without a job.
This entire café sequence was cut for time, in order to move the action to Dinohattan quicker.
Luigi Meets Daisy at the Café
As originally filmed, Pascal would've offered Mario and Luigi a free meal as a way to make up for hiring Scapelli over them. While dining, Daisy would've walked into the café in order to use a phone. Luigi was to witness her colliding with a waiter, falling on the floor drenched in water from the broken dishes. Luigi then apologized for Daisy and offered to pay damages on her behalf, which opened the opportunity to introduce themselves to one another.
It is unknown if this version of the scene ever made it into editing, as it was filmed early during principal photography and eventually reshot with the version seen in the theatrical cut.
The Mario Bros. Prepare for their Date
A brief scene of Mario and Luigi preparing for their date occured after dropping Daisy off at the dig site. The two of them would be dressing themselves, with Luigi blasting Red Hot Chili Peppers in his room while Mario listened to Frank Sinatra. Luigi was going to confide that he lacked confidence in the date, admitting he was embarrassed to be a plumber. Mario was going to encourage him to have more pride in his family, kicking off the deleted "family pride" thorough line of the film.
Mario and Luigi Pick up Daisy from the Dig Site
The Todd Strasser novelization describes a scene where Mario and Luigi pick up Daisy from the dig site for their date, ending with the reveal Spike and Iggy are stalking them. The continuity Polaroids suggest this scene was shot.
Koopa Kills His Campaign Advisor
Koopa's introduction as presented in the theatrical cut was a late reshoot. As originally filmed, Koopa was being lectured by his campaign advisor, worrying votes weren't in his favour and he should enact a solution to rid Dinohattan of the fungus. Koopa then strangled him to death and laid him on the floor, complaining to Lena that he got his hands dirty. The only remnant of this scene left in the theatrical cut is Koopa sanitizing his hands as he is introduced.
Mario Interacts with a Group of Prostitutes
A brief scene when the Mario brothers first entered Dinohattan featured a group of prostitutes offering Mario a good time. Carlene Moore played one of them, but not much else is known about this scene besides the surviving Polaroids.
Big Bertha Steals the Rock Extended
An extended conversation with the Granny before Bertha shows up, where Mario hands the elderly mugger money. She tosses it away as worthless as Mario chastises her for wasting 31 dollars. She then proceeds to taser both of the brothers right as she steals the rock and Bertha shows up.
Mario Bros. Enter Police Station Extended
The scene of Mario and Luigi being incarcerated was originally longer. There was an additional panning shot of the Bros. being carried in, passing by guard dogs. Sergeant Simon originally asked Mario his "first name" to clarify after asking his last name.
Mario and Luigi Argue in their Cell
Status: Partially Found
After Toad tells the brothers about the meteorite theory, Luigi would gloat to Mario that he was right about them being in another dimension. This would aggravate Mario into admitting that he let his father down by failing to raise Luigi and continue his plumbing business successfully. After the argument, a Lizard Man next to Mario would've tossed a cigarette butt on his lap.
Koopa Slimes a Devo Technician
After Koopa orders Toad's de-evolution, he would've punished a technician nearby who sneezed in his presence. Sent back all the way to primordial ooze, Koopa calls it a fate worse than death. The technician's slimy remains can still be seen in the theatrical cut when the Mario Bros. escape the Devo Chamber.
This scene famously went through numerous revisions. In the storyboards, Koopa used Sergeant Simon as an example and de-evolved him from a Goomba into slime. When the scene was first shot, Toad was the one actually de-evolved into slime. This original shoot is evident in the workprint, where Koopa can be heard saying, "Now Toad's a bit stressed...." as he mushes his shoes in the slime. The goomba jacket covered in slime as originally filmed can even be seen underneath Koopa in the theatrical cut. Once it was decided to merge Toad and the friendly Goomba Hark into one character, the scene was shot again to instead slime a Devo Technician - this is the take seen in the workprint.
Koopa in the Devo Chair
After the Mario Bros. escape the Devo Chamber, Simon and some other subordinates would've come to Koopa's aid. He requests they draw a bath for him as he stammers about how he invented the machine, playing off the situation.
Police Car Chase Extended
Status: Partially Found
The police car chase originally went on much longer. Much of this extended scene is in the workprint, with additional shots found in the Winter CES footage from 1993.
Lena Enters the Mud bath
The scene of Koopa in the mud bath originally opened with an overhead shot of Lena entering, singing praises of "glorious mud." Koopa fantasizes about Daisy, and how only she can withstand the meteorite's force.
Bonding in the Barracks
A short, but sweet scene of Daisy and Daniella confiding to each other in the Goomba Barracks was cut. This scene opened with one of the Brooklyn Babes offering a Goomba guard a cigarette, which was featured in the Making Of documentary.
The Koopa Cousins Interrupt Koopa's Seduction
The scene of Koopa attempting to seduce Daisy originally featured Spike and Iggy interrupting the situation. They report to Koopa that they've discovered the Mario's abandoned police car. Koopa violently collides their heads and confirms their intelligence hasn't improved despite being evolved.
Mario and Luigi Argue in the Desert
A short argument between Mario and Luigi in the Koopahari Desert was cut after Spike and Iggy spot them. Mario vents that he could've been at home with Daniella watching The Knicks.
Luigi Pleads his Guilt to Mario
Right after Spike and Iggy drive off the desert cliff, a scene took place of Luigi admitting his guilt to Mario. He takes the blame for all that's happened to them and encourages Mario to murder him with a stray rock. He then notices the Koopa Cousins' dune buggy and drops the rock on Mario's foot.
Spike and Iggy Discuss Democracy
As the Mario Bros. and Koopa Cousins drive to the Boom Boom Bar, a brief discussion took place in the Sludge Gulper concerning Dinohattan's political system. Luigi questions what kind of system they have in place where the people can only vote for Koopa, which Iggy claims is a "democracy."
Mario Encourages the Koopa Cousins to Revolt
Right after the group enters the Boom Boom Bar, Spike would've pointed out how de-evolved the Go-Go Dancers are. Mario then encourages the Koopa Cousins to "do something" about their world.
Spike and Iggy's Revolutionary Rap
Drunk on martinis, Spike and Iggy would've broke into a musical number right after Mario steals the rock from Bertha. The last shot of the Cousins being escorted away shouting revolutionary slogans is still present in the theatrical cut.
The Ventilation Shaft Extended
A slightly longer and more intimate scene between Mario and Luigi was cut in the ventilation shaft. After Luigi catches Mario mid-air, he states that he's proud to be a "Mario." This would've gave closure to the family pride subplot.
Mario Evades Goombas in Koopa Tower
A couple of shots in the theatrical trailer show Mario avoiding Goombas with flamethrowers in Koopa Tower after Daisy tells him Daniella is in the Goomba Barracks.
Koopa Gets the Rock Extended
An extended scene of Simon handing Koopa the rock was cut. When Daisy and Luigi are summoned, Koopa admits he's not a "good guy," but wants to offer Daisy the chance to fufill her "spatial destiny."
Ice Tunnel Ride Extended
The scene of Mario and the Brooklyn Babes riding through the ice tunnel was originally longer. In the theatrical trailer, a shot of the Goombas investigating the pipe can be seen which is featured in the longer scene. Mario interacts with the babes more, proclaiming it's their "last exit to Brooklyn."
The Invasion of the Goombas
Before Mario and Koopa merge, a scene took place where Daniella was being interviewed by a reporter about their experience in Dinohattan. Suddenly, the Goombas marched on to the dig site, where one merged into being inside of a porta potty.
Koopa's Pizza Arrives
Right after Koopa's slimy remains hit the floor, a short gag of the delivery boy throwing Koopa's pizza on top of his remains was cut.
Spike and Iggy's New Job
As the celebration over Koopa's defeat begins, a short scene offering closure for Spike and Iggy's arc was cut. The two of them congratulate each other in Koopa's office, where they wonder what their next job will be. This scene possibly foreshadows a potential sequel.
Extended Celebration Scene
Status: Partially Found
A much longer celebration scene involving Toad conducting an orchestra beside Yoshi in Koopa Square was cut. This scene ended with Luigi and Daisy's first kiss prior to the farewell scene. Continuity Polaroids reveal a gag involving a female Goomba was potentially filmed, but no other information currently exists surrounding it.
Mario Plays the Saxophone
A scene was filmed in the ending where Mario began playing a song on a custom-made saxophone modelled from pipes. A still can be found in the sticker album, but no other information about this scene is currently known.
Nintendo Executives Extended
An extended version of the scene with the Nintendo executives in the post-credits reveal they were going to agree to call their game "Mario Bros.", declining Spike and Iggy's suggestion of "Super Koopa Cousins."
The Original, Unfilmed Climax
In the Clement and La Frenais' screenplay, the climax originally involved Mario and Koopa being warped between various dimensions. More surrealism was to be put on screen as they battled over the meteorite piece. Lena originally switched sides and helped Luigi secure the Brooklyn Babes to safety, as her character hadn't quite developed her villainess edge at this point in production. Many more moments of Dinohattan merging with Brooklyn were shown, with Mario and Koopa ending up on the Brooklyn Bridge. Koopa would have transformed into a full-body T-Rex, strangling Mario with his tail. Mario seized the moment to shove the Bob-Omb down his throat, weakening Koopa as he toppled over the side of the bridge and exploded in the water below. This act of heroism would've also convinced even Scapelli of their bravery. The film then ended with a family BBQ, with both Lena and Scapelli present.
Although this climax was storyboarded and the full-body Koopa creature was created, it wasn't ultimately filmed. Late into principal photography, the production already was way over budget and Both Morton and Jankel's filming contract had expired. This left the second and third units in charge of salvaging pieces of the climax, which resulted in the Bob-Omb sequence seen in the final film.
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 "Mind Your Mummy Mommy, Mario" (found original "Wipeout" cover audio of animated series episode; 1990)
- After Hours "Why Mario is Secretly a Dick With a Mustache" (partially found extended version of internet video; 2012)
- Cinemassacre Extra "Motherfuckin' Mario" (partially found YouTube live stream recording; 2016)
- Club Mario (partially found live-action segments of "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show" animated TV series; 1990)
- King Koopa's Kool Kartoons (partially found live-action "Super Mario Bros." spinoff TV series; 1989-1990)
- Super Mario 64 big star secret (partially found YouTube screamer video; 2007-2012)
- Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! (found anime/manga adaption of video game series; 1986)
- The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! (partially lost live-action segments of live-action animated TV show based on game series; 1989)
- Super Mario Land (found Ambassadors of Funk music video; 1992)