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Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Old 04-08-23, 04:52 PM
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Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

I saw the below article the other day and thought it was interesting.

I was a kid when the '93 movie came out so I watched it all the time. I watched it for the the first in a while last night. I don't think it is a great movie, but I still like it. It has an interesting vision and I wonder if it wasn't trying to be connected the game it would've been better received. In the article they say that a scene was cut that included Nintendo execs coming to the brothers to use their events for the inspiration of the game. So the intent of the movie wasn't supposed to an adaption of the game.

I don't have any plans to see the new animated film in theatres, but I'll check it out when it streams.

Last month, Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel went to the theater to see “Super Mario Bros.,” a movie they directed 30 years ago — and haven’t watched since.

The live-action 1993 film, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, bombed at the box office and landed on various “Worst Movies of All Time” lists, later developing a passionate cult following. In the directors’ own words, “Super Mario Bros.” was so “reviled” that it left a “black mark” on the married couple’s careers.

That is, until a midnight screening held at Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema on March 11 “washed away the stain.”

“My thought was that there would be 10 or 20 people there,” Morton tells Variety. “But it was jam-packed. There were people queueing up around the block for extra tickets.” During the film, Morton says the audience was “laughing and clapping at all the right places. They weren’t doing it ironically; it was genuine.”

“It was like being at a film festival,” Jankel adds, amazed that dozens of fans approached her for autographs and selfies. “It was vindicating. It took 30 years of a bad feeling to be wiped out in one evening.”

The screening came after Tarantino shouted out Morton and Jankel on his podcast, “The Video Archives Podcast,” in which he and Roger Avary revisit classic films and VHS gems. On the show, the “Pulp Fiction” director applauded Morton and Jankel’s first feature film, 1988’s “D.O.A.”

“I think Quentin Tarantino understands where we’re coming from, creatively,” Morton says. “It’s a certain quirkiness that didn’t fit in nicely with the Hollywood scene at the time.”

The timing of Jankel and Morton’s day in the sun is not lost on them. On April 5, Universal released “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” an animated blockbuster starring Chris Pratt as the mustachioed plumber, plus an A-list ensemble featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Charlie Day, Seth Rogen and Keegan-Michael Key. The movie is expected to debut to more than $125 million this week.

Released 30 years apart, the two films could not be more different. The 1993 film, which is meant to be a prequel to the 1985 Super Mario Bros. game, features a parallel universe populated with humanoid dinosaurs who live in the city of Dinohattan. When NYU archaeology student Daisy, who is later revealed to be a descendant of the dinosaurs, is kidnapped by King Koopa’s henchmen, Brooklyn plumbers Mario and Luigi must rescue her with the help of Toad, portrayed here as a punk guitarist. “We were never, ever trying to recreate the original game,” Jankel says. “Otherwise, we would have made the animated film.”

While the ‘93 film, the first big-screen adaptation of a video game, was criticized for being too dark, the 2023 movie is, as Morton puts it, “the film that everybody wants.” After all, it’s been touted as a more faithful adaptation of the video game series and is animated by Illumination, the Chris Meledandri-led studio behind “Despicable Me,” the highest-grossing animated franchise in history.

Perhaps the biggest advantage the new movie has is Nintendo, which had zero involvement in the ‘93 film. Not only is the gaming giant a producer on the 2023 movie, but Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros., co-produced the film with Meledandri and was involved every step of the way, from casting to animation to developing the story. Nintendo’s distance from the original film is something that, in hindsight, Morton regrets.

“If I’d have had a relationship with Miyamoto and brought him onboard, if he had been a producer and he understood what we were doing, he wouldn’t have let certain things happen,” he says. “We would have been a team, and it would have been a different film.”

Produced by a Disney subsidiary, “Super Mario Bros.” was viewed as a licensing experiment by Nintendo, which yielded creative control to the film’s backers. Morton recalls having a “polite” meeting with Miyamoto ahead of production — where he explained the story to the Nintendo executive — but they never spoke again. “He actually liked our film,” Morton claims.

But the reception to the movie spooked Miyamoto and kept Mario off the big screen for three decades. In this week’s Variety cover story, Miyamoto said, “We were fearful of all the failure of past IP adaptations, where there’s a license and a distance between the original creators and the creators of the films.” Without specifically referencing the ‘93 movie, he added, “The fans get outraged and mad because the studios didn’t do justice to the original work. We really didn’t want a backlash.”

The production of 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.” was marred by drunken actors (Leguizamo later claimed he drank whiskey with Hoskins during shooting), last-minute rewrites and explosive fights between the producers and the directors.

“Two weeks before the first day of principal photography, the script was rewritten completely,” Morton says. “The producers forbade me to talk to the writer. But I called him up one night because I was building all these incredible sets and monsters and prosthetics. And I said, ‘You need to know what I’m building and what to keep in the script, because we spent all this money on this stuff already.’ When the producers found out I did this call, they went absolutely ballistic at me — they ripped into me. And it scared me.”

Morton continues, “Of course, the actors all signed up on our original script, and when the new script came in, Annabel and I had to justify the new script. We had to pretend that it was great and convince the actors to go along with it.”

Over the years, the dysfunction and turmoil of “Super Mario Bros.” has been widely reported: the actors complaining about the rewrites, the directors insulting the crew, the actors mocking the directors. In one of his memoirs, Leguizamo wrote that Morton poured hot coffee on an extra — an incident that Morton has since said was blown out of proportion. In a 1992 Los Angeles Times article detailing the chaos on set, “Super Mario Bros.” star Dennis Hopper said, “The directors won’t give interviews? That’s the smartest thing I’ve heard from them. That’s the only intelligent thing I’ve heard that they’ve really actually done.”

The day after that story ran, CAA fired Morton and Jankel. “It was the end of our movie careers,” he says.

But the film hadn’t even come out yet. When it did, it failed to recoup its $48 million budget and was trashed by critics. Variety’s review at the time called the film “wildly overproduced and derivative.” But perhaps what stung more than the box office blunder and bad reviews was the “Super Mario Bros.” cast speaking out against the film and Morton and Jankel.

Decades after its release, Hoskins said “Super Mario Bros.” was the “biggest disappointment” of his career, calling the production a “nightmare” and the directors “fuckin’ idiots.” And while Leguizamo has softened on “Mario” in recent years, saying he is “proud of the movie in retrospect,” Hopper pulled no punches when it came to disparaging the movie — and Morton and Jankel. “It was a husband-and-wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn’t talk before they made decisions,” Hopper said in 2008.

Looking back, Morton says it was hard to watch his own cast turn on the film. “They saw what we were going through,” he says. “Most of the actors were sympathetic, but a few of them weren’t. It was uncalled for, but that’s the way it goes.”

Just as I ask Morton what he wishes he could change about “Super Mario Bros.,” his phone starts ringing. “Do you mind? It’s my plumber,” he asks politely, then perks up with an epiphany. “It’s my plumber! What a coincidence. But his name is Mike, not Mario.”

When he comes back into frame on our Zoom call, he begins discussing a pivotal scene at the end of the movie that the producers cut out — one that could have dispelled a lot of the criticism surrounding the film’s loose adaptation of the game.

After Mario and Luigi complete their crazy adventure in Dinohattan, “Two executives from Nintendo turn up at the Mario Bros. apartment in Brooklyn. And they want to hear their story because it’s on the news, and they’re making a video game,” Morton says. “It explains the reason why the film doesn’t literally follow the story in the game. It got lost in translation. The Mario Bros. told the Nintendo executives the story and it was misinterpreted. The film is meant to represent the actual story.”

While the film has since cultivated a passionate following, Morton says, “We were abandoned by Hollywood after ‘Super Mario Bros.’”

Years later, Morton co-founded the production company MJZ and focused on television commercials. The company has since won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Lions, the festival that celebrates creative communications and advertising, nearly a dozen times. Meanwhile, Jankel directed 24 episodes of the music docuseries “Live From Abbey Road” and helmed the 2018 romantic drama “Tell It to the Bees,” which received a limited theatrical release.

When asked if she has regrets about “Super Mario Bros.,” Jankel says, “Massive regrets! It was such a painful experience. But it’s now become a really joyful experience that has found its place in the annals of history.”

But while critics jumped to declare the film unwatchable, the directors find most of the hatred to be “unjustified.”

While he admits the film is “a mess, structurally,” Morton is quick to point out, “Our achievement was creating something truly original, even though it was based on a video game. It was funny, it was sci-fi, it was fantasy, it was a love story. And I think it succeeded in all those elements. And the performances from a lot of the actors were great. I’m proud of the movie, and I stand by it.”

The director believes the film got swept up in negative cultural attitudes toward video games in the 1990s. “There was a huge outcry in America about how video games were being forced down the throats of our children and polluting our youth,” Morton says. “That they’re not doing their homework and video games are affecting their brains and their diets. These games were viewed as this kind of evil monster.”

He continues, “For Hollywood to say, ‘Now we’re going to turn these video games into movies,’ that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It opened the floodgates of people’s vitriol against video games. The ‘Super Mario Bros.’ movie was in the front line and took all the flak.”

Now, not only are video games more widely accepted — the gaming industry generates $350 billion annually, dwarfing the revenues of the film, television and music industries — but Hollywood is also starting to stick the landing when it comes to adapting them, from the “Sonic” movie franchise to HBO’s “The Last of Us” series.

Plus, the target audience for “Super Mario Bros.” was kids who were playing the games. Now, those kids have grown up and “have a voice in the cultural zeitgeist,” as Morton points out.

But whether you like it or hate it, Jankel and Morton take “full responsibility” for “Super Mario Bros.”

“At the end of the day, even though there were mitigating circumstances beyond our control, we were ultimately responsible,” Morton says.

Before we wrap up our separate interviews, I ask Morton how the process of making “Super Mario Bros.” affected his marriage with Jankel.

“It was a strain on every aspect of our relationship,” he says. “But our bond was unbreakable, and we survived through it because of that. I don’t know what would have happened if either of us had been on our own. It was really humiliating and nasty. Thank God we did have each other.”

So will they go back to the movie theater to see Universal and Nintendo’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”?

“Possibly,” Jankel chuckles. “Having not seen my own movie for so long, I might take a look at it in 30 years.”
https://variety.com/2023/film/news/1...ng-1235574696/
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Old 04-09-23, 10:27 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

It’s a mess, but entertaining. Helps to know that it was meant to be a prequel to the video game, and that some details were lost in translation when that happened.

My theater played it for 2 weeks, it did OK the first week but had empty showings by the 2nd. We were also playing an art film that was supposed to be dropped when Jurassic Park came out, but it was doing so well we dropped Super Mario Bros instead and played the art film a few more weeks.
Old 04-09-23, 11:20 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

I always enjoyed it as an absurdist take on Super Mario Bros. Still do. Then again, I also got a kick outta Mario Warfare. So what do I know?
Old 04-09-23, 11:26 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

It’s an interesting movie. I can see why many people were disappointed in it because it bears little resemblance to the video game or its characters. Mario and Luigi are about the only things. As it’s own movie it’s got some interesting aspects and the sets and stuff are cool.
Old 04-10-23, 12:05 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

I was too old to see it in '93, but I really enjoyed this video about the making of the movie, done by the same guy that did a really great documentary about the game Tetris. Absolutely worth the watch.

Old 04-10-23, 12:06 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee
We were also playing an art film that was supposed to be dropped when Jurassic Park came out, but it was doing so well we dropped Super Mario Bros instead and played the art film a few more weeks.
Which film? Was it Like Water For Chocolate?
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Old 04-10-23, 12:10 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Never saw the film, but the article has me curious. Will check it out. Thanks for sharing.

FWIW, I was a big fan of Morton and Jankel's Max Headroom series, which was way ahead of its time.
Old 04-10-23, 12:20 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

You can’t stream this movie anywhere. But looks like you can still pick up the old barebones Hollywood Pictures DVD for $5 on Amazon. That’s if anyone here really really wants to see it badly enough.
Old 04-10-23, 12:50 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by Crocker Jarmen
Which film? Was it Like Water For Chocolate?
Yes it was, how did you know? Did you work with me then?
Old 04-10-23, 01:29 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by DJariya
You can’t stream this movie anywhere. But looks like you can still pick up the old barebones Hollywood Pictures DVD for $5 on Amazon. That’s if anyone here really really wants to see it badly enough.
You can get the "Morton-Jankel Cut" for free, over at Archive.org.
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Old 04-10-23, 10:46 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee
Yes it was, how did you know? Did you work with me then?
lol No. But that's the one art movie I remember coming out that year that was a "hit" (for that kind of movie).
Old 04-10-23, 12:04 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Now let's revisit Double Dragon and Street Fighter.
Old 04-10-23, 12:30 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by DJariya
You can’t stream this movie anywhere. But looks like you can still pick up the old barebones Hollywood Pictures DVD for $5 on Amazon. That’s if anyone here really really wants to see it badly enough.
I remember being disappointed and all-around confused when I saw SMB when it first came out. I haven’t seen it since and was curious about watching it again with fresh eyes to see if I enjoyed the movie more now that I’m older. $5 is still too rich for my blood. If it’s not streaming anywhere I’m not going to bother watching it again.

This movie calls for the least amount of effort humanly possible to watch it again.
Old 04-10-23, 12:32 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ
I remember being disappointed and all-around confused when I saw SMB when it first came out. I haven’t seen it since and was curious about watching it again with fresh eyes to see if I enjoyed the movie more now that I’m older. $5 is still too rich for my blood. If it’s not streaming anywhere I’m not going to bother watching it again.

This movie calls for the least amount of effort humanly possible to watch it again.
I have a copy of the UK steelbook Blu that came out a few years back. It is OOP now and has sold for more than $200 on eBay.
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Old 04-10-23, 02:57 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

The OOP Umbrella version from Australia had the same bonus features as the UK tin, plus added in the 'work print' version (albeit in a rawer form than the archive.org edition).

I wouldn't be surprised if one of the U.S. boutiques finally gets around to this now that they can piggyback on the newer film.

I saw it theatrically in 1993 as was kind of indifferent outside of the impressive scale of it all. I've watched bits of it over the years, and would probably do the same with a new Blu-ray edition. In terms of both practical and CG effects, it was reasonably significant for the era as I recall.
Old 04-10-23, 07:28 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Super Mario Bros and Double Dragon are on YouTube. Not the best quality but whatever.

Did anyone notice how Bros is officially pronounced "brohs" now? Super Mario, Dutch, etc. We used to say "brothers".

Old 10-12-23, 12:01 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by Brian T
The OOP Umbrella version from Australia had the same bonus features as the UK tin, plus added in the 'work print' version (albeit in a rawer form than the archive.org edition). I wouldn't be surprised if one of the U.S. boutiques finally gets around to this now that they can piggyback on the newer film.
Looks like Umbrella have gone all out for a new special edition releasing in January. They actually have four variants of it: 2-disc Blu-ray; 4K + Blu-ray (extras); 4K + 2 disc Blu-ray; and the insanely overloaded 'Trust The Fungus' edition. I can't imagine they left anything out. All the versions are overpriced, not surprisinglly (this one's $150 AUD ), and since Umbrella now has a deal with Vinegar Syndrome / OCN, I suspect they'll release some combos of this as well (and probably just as expensive! )

You can see the various version sprinkled among their new release page here:
https://shop.umbrellaent.com.au/collections/coming-soon





Extras:Only available from the Umbrella webstore, the TRUST THE FUNGUS - Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition includes:
  • A brand new 4K restoration from original camera negative
  • Over 250 page hardback bound book including a host of production materials, interviews and artwork
  • Over 200 page bound book of scripts including early drafts
  • Genuine Super Mario Bros. film cell in collectable case
  • Replica A6 1993 34 page Souvenir magazine
  • Classic artwork designed outer rigid slipcase
  • Classic artwork design slipcase
  • 8 replica lobby cards
  • 2 x A3 reversible posters featuring UK, Australian, Thai and Japanese original posters
  • Sticker sheet
  • Limited Edition numbered release


DISC 1 4K UHD100 Feature
  • NEW! Feature film from brand new 4K master
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Parker Bennett (screenwriter)
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Fred Caruso (co-producer) and David L. Snyder (production designer)
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Jeff Goodwin (key makeup artist), Mark McCoy (special effects crew) and Craig Edwards (production assistant)
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Steven Applebaum & Richard Hoss (Super Mario Bros. The Movie archivists)
  • NEW! Newly restored 4K deleted scenes
  • NEW! Newly restored 4K Ain't No Game trailer
  • NEW! Newly restored 4K I've Got The Power trailer

DISC 2 Blu-ray Feature
  • NEW! Feature film from brand new 4K master
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Parker Bennett (screenwriter)
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Fred Caruso (co-producer) and David L. Snyder (production designer)
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Jeff Goodwin (key makeup artist), Mark McCoy (special effects crew) and Craig Edwards (production assistant)
  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Steven Applebaum & Richard Hoss (Super Mario Bros. The Movie archivists)
  • NEW! Newly restored deleted scenes
  • NEW! Newly restored Ain't No Game trailer
  • NEW! Newly restored I've Got The Power trailer

DISC 3 Blu-ray Extras
  • NEW! Newly restored workprint in HD
  • NEW! Storyboard to Screen animatics
  • NEW! Academic Featurettes
    • Katabasis: From Damsel to Goddess
    • Anarcho-Dino-Sado Chic: The Fashion of Dinohattan
    • The Hero Moment: Super Mario, Superhero
    • (D)evolution, Dystopia, and Trusting the Fungus
  • NEW! Spike & Iggy Revolutionary Rap music video restored with new music composed by Richard Edson
  • NEW! Collection of archival Japanese trailers
  • NEW! Collection of archival commercials
  • This Ain't No Video Game Featurette (55mins)
  • 'Making Of' Featurette (25mins)
  • Original electronic press kit with cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
  • Galleries: Stills, storyboards and concepts

Last edited by Brian T; 10-12-23 at 12:07 AM.
Old 10-12-23, 12:12 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

4 audio commentaries? You have to really love it to rewatch it 4 times with those tracks.
Old 10-12-23, 02:30 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

It had to be one of the worst and most stupid movies I have ever seen in my life along with Toys that Robin Williams flick.
Old 10-12-23, 09:37 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

I had a really hard time getting through it. I love bizarre normally but I found it impossible to get into.
Old 10-12-23, 09:59 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by RichC2
I had a really hard time getting through it. I love bizarre normally but I found it impossible to get into.
This movie seems to be kind of an oddity. I guess the fact that a super special edition is being released seems to indicate that there’s a cult following of some sort but it almost feels like they’re trying to force it into cult status rather than letting it happen naturally. As culty as they want us to think it is, no one really seems to like this movie outside of all of our fucked up memories of watching it for the first time expecting an actual Mario Bros. movie.
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Old 10-12-23, 02:29 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by JeffTheAlpaca
It had to be one of the worst and most stupid movies I have ever seen in my life along with Toys that Robin Williams flick.
It certainly was at the time.

Now that I'm more open to different styles of film, it plays a little easier. At the time, it was so bizarre (like Toys) that audiences were bewildered. You can group it with other uncomfortable movies like Time Bandits, Tank Girl, Troma Films, etc. It has no intention to be grounded in reality. It could have followed the rules of young adult family movies of the 90's like Angels in the Outfield, Free Willy, or even Neverending Story.

Anyways, it's still not something I like to watch. Movies like this took time to figure out. In a way, you could say it's a precursor to The Fifth Element. Remember before the MCU, we had the 1990 Captain America (along with all the TV shows).

Now how good was Double Dragon? And when are they going to revive that? There's also certainly some live-action Zelda movies to be made, if they're willing.
Old 10-13-23, 01:03 PM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

The Umbrella release looks pretty cool. Might be tempted to get it. Kind of wish there was an option for the three discs (4K, and two Blu-rays) without having to get the more deluxe set for $75.
Old 10-14-23, 01:22 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by Mike86
The Umbrella release looks pretty cool. Might be tempted to get it. Kind of wish there was an option for the three discs (4K, and two Blu-rays) without having to get the more deluxe set for $75.
That does seem like the only option they left out – more finagling by a boutique to push people into the fancier editions. 🙄

As I mentioned, it’s probably inevitable that Vinegar Syndrome will repackage this in some way, and maybe somewhat cheaper (so to speak), so it could be worth waiting.

I’d be tempted by the Blu-ray version because it has all the extras – which is all I’m really interested in – but not at that price.
Old 10-14-23, 04:22 AM
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Re: Super Mario Bros. (1993) - Discussion

Originally Posted by JeffTheAlpaca
It had to be one of the worst and most stupid movies I have ever seen in my life along with Toys that Robin Williams flick.
I loved Toys but hated SMB.

To each their own.

“Let joy and innocence prevail.”

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