Studio Speaks Out on Chris Pratt Casting Controversy

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Chris Pratt as Star-Lord

Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Pratt isn’t running short on blockbusters these days. His latest film Jurassic World: Dominion (2022) is currently taking the global box office by storm, having so far grossed over $625 million, rivalling the likes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Speaking of which, next up for Pratt is Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), which releases on July 7. The latest Thor sequel sees the God of Thunder teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, as teased at the end of Avengers: Endgame (2019), which means that Chris Pratt will be reprising his role as Peter Quill/Star-Lord.

left, Chris Hemsworth, right, Chris Pratt
Credit: Chris Pratt Instagram @prattprattpratt

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And next year, he’ll have to break out yet another “Awesome Mix” tape for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023), which releases on 5 May 2023. But before that happens, the Jurassic World: Dominion star will be taking on another “retro” character (in voice form, at least).

Super Mario Bros. (2023) will release in theaters on April 7, 2023 (though it was originally scheduled for December 21 this year), and will be the second movie adaptation of the universally popular Nintendo video game series about a super-powered plumber.

super mario bros 35th anniversary edition
Credit: Nintendo

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The original 1993 live-action movie of the same name, which starred the late Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the titular brothers, was both a critical and financial disaster, and is considered one of the worst movie adaptations of a video game ever.

However, owing thanks to the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) and its 2022 sequel, the tide seems to have turned on films based on widely popular video games, which means that the time is ripe for a Super Mario Bros. reboot (after all, Mario has always been more popular than Sonic).

Super Mario Bros 1993
Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

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Super Mario Bros., which will be entirely computer animated, is being helmed by Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, will serve as producer, and Chris Pratt will be voicing the iconic plumber.

Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri previously said the following about the movie:

“[Super Mario Bros. is] an ambitious task… taking things that are so thin in their original form and finding depth that doesn’t compromise what generations of fans love about Mario, but also feels organic to the iconography and can support a three-act structure.”

Credit: Nintendo

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However, as seems to be the case with most films these days, Super Mario Bros. hasn’t been without controversy, with many fans of the long-running video game series criticizing the casting of Chris Pratt into the role of an Italian character.

But at the Barcelona’s CineEurope event on Monday, Meledandri defended casting the A-list Hollywood actor, saying:

“Chris was cast because we felt he could give a great performance as Mario. And now that we’ve done about 15 recording sessions, and the movie is three-quarters done, I sit here and say that I love his performance as Mario,” Meledandri said. He also said that, as he has Italian American heritage, he could make that decision without worrying about offending Italians or Italian Americans. “I think we’re gonna be just fine,” he went on. “Especially because [Pratt] he’s given such a strong performance.”

Chris Pratt Jurassic World: Dominion
Credit: Universal Studios via YouTube

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Meledandri was also questioned on Pixar’s decision to include a same-sex kiss scene in Lightyear (2022), which has sparked a whirlwind of controversy, with the film having been banned in numerous countries while being barraged with vitriolic comments.

When asked whether or not Illumination would include scenes of this nature in one of their own films, given the risk of it being banned in numerous markets, Meledandri said:

“It’s not been something that has come up on our past films.” He then continued, “There are topics of conversation right now that are very relevant to what we’re doing in the future that get into areas that potentially might not please everybody.” He added that it was a matter of “honoring the stories that you tell, honoring the choices that your filmmakers make.”

Chris Pratt and Blue in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom
Credit: Universal Studios

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Super Mario Bros. won’t be the first time Chris Pratt teams up with dinosaurs (or second or third, for that matter), which form a large part of the Mario universe. With that said, there’s no word on whether we should expect his iconic dinosaur companion “Yoshi” in the upcoming film.

Super Mario Bros. will be released in theaters on April 7, 2023. It stars Chris Pratt (Mario), Anya Taylor-Joy (Princess Peach), Charlie Day (Luigi), Jack Black (Bowser), Keegan-Michael Key (Toad), Fred Armisen (Cranky Kong), Kevin Michael Richardson (Kamek), Sebastian Maniscalo (Spike), Seth Rogen (Donkey Kong), and Charles Martinet in an undisclosed role.

Chris Pratt, The Super Mario Bros.
Credit: (L) Nintendo, (R) Universal Studios

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Are you looking forward to seeing Chris Pratt voice Mario in the new Super Mario Bros movie? Let us know in the comments down below!

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