Scripts

 


 

This page features eight screenplays dated from the original fantasy production to the science fiction-oriented concept ultimately realized on film. The screenplays are presented in chronological order alongside brief notes on tone, themes and content.

"Wizard of Oz" Fantasy - Transitional Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pitch - "GhostBusters" Sci-Fi/Comedy Draft - "Die Hard" Sci-Fi/Action Draft

"Mad Max" Sci-Fi/Action Script - "Disney Princess" Sci-Fi/Romance Shooting Script - "Rainbow" Revisions Script 1

"Rainbow" Revisions Script 2

"The Wizard of Oz" Fairytale/Parody Script

Writers: Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker

Revision Date: 17th July 1991

Download: 114 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

This gem by writers Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein (The Flintstones, Richie Rich) gives us the fullest look at what the film could have been like if it were a more direct, fantastical adaptation. Parker and Jennewein envisioned their story as a comedic take on fairytale themes in the same vein as The Princess Bride and the later Shrek series.

Brothers Mario and Luigi pursue Princess Hildy into a hidden world reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland — complete with checkered brick road, tribes of mushroom people, and a King Koopa described as an anthropomorphic dragon. This screenplay laid the groundwork for how the characters were used by later writers: Mario is the older, reluctant hero while Luigi is the young dreamer that gets the girl.

As much as $10 million was spent developing the fantasy screenplay. Greg Beeman (License to Drive) was attached to direct, but the failure of his 1992 film Mom and Dad Save the World led to his dismissal. The production then spent nearly a year searching for a replacement director. Harold Ramis was approached, but he declined. Only husband-and-wife directing team Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel (Max Headroom, D.O.A.) agreed to take on the project—so long as they could renew development.




Transitional Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pitch

Writers: Parker Bennett and Terry Runté

Revision Date: 28th October 1991

Download: 9 Pages | Pitch Sheets | Script Notes

Overview:

This pitch by budding writers Parker Bennett and Terry Runté (Mystery Date, The Princess and the Cobbler) represents the early transition from a fantasy-oriented development of the Mushroom Kingdom milieu to the more grounded and satirical vision of Morton and Jankel.

Bennett and Runté felt the fantasy screenplay was never “funny, scary or outlandish enough” and so sought to focus more on Mario and Luigi’s relationship with each other and their late father. They also looked to develop Daisy into a more proactive character and to expand Koopa’s plot so it would endanger both worlds.

The pitch is still firmly within the fantastical: Mario and Luigi are prophesized saviors, a magical talking book aids them on their quest, and Koopa resides within a traditional stone-and-dungeon castle. The concept of humanoid dinosaurs is essentially only retrofitted onto the prior fantasy narrative established by Parker and Jennewein.




"GhostBusters" Sci-Fi/Comedy Draft

Writers: Parker Bennett and Terry Runté

Revision Date: 19th February 1992

Download: 114 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Original Opening: 6 Pages

Overview:

Once hired, Bennett and Runté would expand their pitch with inspiration from the genre-aware sensibilities of Ghostbusters. Their initial opening saw Mario as sleazier and more confident like Bill Murray as Peter Venkman. However, once the two writers discovered that Bob Hoskins was being sought for the role they realized they needed to rewrite the character older and more likable. The script would soon after be rewritten to feature a more family-friendly tone and completely new characterizations.

This proved a smart move as the new first act really takes the time and care to establish genuine characters. The dinosaur world likewise feels just as real with its mishmash of world architecture and fashion inspired by both reptilian aesthetic and clever game references. The middle-act features a Mario Golf-inspired desert segment in which Koopa systematically purges his political rivals.

With the studio pressing to get the film into production as quickly as possible, Bennett and Runté were dismissed before they could revise further. Ironically, they would later be brought back as the final writing team.




"Die Hard" Sci-Fi/Action Draft

Writers: Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais

Revision Date: 3rd March 1992

Download: 118 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Annabel Jankel's Script Notes: 12 Pages

Overview:

Acclaimed British screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais (Flushed Away, Across The Universe) were brought onto the project to steer the story closer to the more mature directorial vision.

The overall narrative structure of the previous screenplay remains intact, though the tone is now much more satirical than comedic. The one attempt at humor is a cameo from Bruce Willis in the air ducts of Koopa’s Tower as homage to Die Hard. The primary new element is the introduction of female police officer “Gloria” — an early iteration of Big Bertha.

The script notes from Jankel are invaluable towards understanding directorial concerns over narrative and character. Many of Jankel’s comments advise Clement and la Frenais to refer to the Bennett and Runté draft for further revisions.




"Mad Max" Sci-Fi/Action Draft

Writers: Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais

Revision Date: 25th March 1992

Download: 112 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

Clement and la Frenais really hit their stride in this second draft that fully realizes their vision of a more mature, satirical, and action-packed adventure into a parallel world of humanoid dinosaurs. While humor is still largely absent, so too are any holdovers from the Bennett and Runté draft.

The narrative structure is once again largely the same as earlier drafts, though the Mario Golf-inspired desert segment devised by Bennett and Runté is now a Mario Kart-meets-Mad Max death race. Most significantly, the third act gives Princess Daisy and Lena more direct involvement in the climactic inter-dimensional merge.

This screenplay and its promise of character-presence brought much of the cast onto the project, though the trade-off for stronger story is a much more tenuous connection to the games. The cast would be given a completely new script by yet another writing team once they arrived on set to begin filming.




"Disney Princess" Distribution Script

Writers: Ed Solomon and Ryan Rowe

Revision Date: 17th April 1992

Download: 112 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

With an increasingly overbudget pre-production and a rapidly approaching shoot, Lightmotive producers Roland Joffé and Jake Eberts looked to secure additional funding by striking a distribution deal with Disney. Writers Ed Solomon and Ryan Rowe were brought on to develop a lighter and more practical adventure—without input from directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel.

Solomon and Rowe streamlined the complicated narrative by minimizing or consolidating characters. Much of Toad’s role is shifted into Iggy and Spike. Scapelli is no longer Daniella’s older brother blackmailing Mario. Bertha is no longer the officer that books Mario and Luigi.

Several key scenes were also rewritten with a leaner budget in mind: the showstopper desert segment is removed, the climactic Brooklyn Bridge battle between Mario and Koopa never occurs, and Koopa is de-evolved off-screen into a Yoshi-like creature rather than a towering T-Rex.

The script is in many ways structurally very close to the original “Ghostbusters” script, though now thematically much more a traditional romantic adventure. Princess Daisy is bonded to the meteorite pendant and cannot survive long without it. The ending features a double wedding in which Luigi marries Daisy and Mario marries Daniella. The meteorite pendant is even fashioned into a ring.




"Rainbow" Shooting Rewrites #1

Writers: Ed Solomon

Revision Date: 28th April - 17th June 1992

Download: 113 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

Directors Morton and Jankel were furious over the doctored “Disney Princess” shooting script and even considered quitting, but instead resolved to reclaim their original vision. Ed Solomon would be called to set for additional rewrites.

The "Rainbow" shooting script — so named by the cast for its many colored revision pages — is only one small step removed from the final film. Solomon further streamlined the narrative by consolidating Toad and “Good Goomba” Hark into a single character. He restored the climactic Brooklyn Bridge battle between Mario and Koopa as the more practical walkway showdown. He expanded the Bob-Omb as narrative throughline and devised the de-evolution of Scapelli.

While Solomon primarily worked with the directors and producers on streamlining the narrative to balance tone and budget, he also introduced essential new material. The film could not have been as clever or cohesive without him.




"Rainbow" Shooting Rewrites #2

Writers: Parker Bennett and Terry Runté

Revision Date: 3rd July - 14th July 1992

Download: 116 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

Through pure happenstance, the original screenwriting team of Parker Bennett and Terry Runté visited the Wilmington, North Carolina set just weeks after Solomon’s departure to discover a still struggling production. They were subsequently re-hired to handle final rewrites.

Bennett and Terry Runté are responsible for further streamlining and clarifying the plot through expository rewrites. They also re-developed Luigi and Daisy’s relationship through a new initial meeting and by introducing the Back to the Future–inspired sequel hook as a means of reuniting the young lovers. Finally, they wrote the Lance Henriksen cameo as the Fungus King.

This writing team remained into post-production to contribute ADR, the expository dinosaur prologue, and Goomba subtitles. They also successfully arbitrated on their own behalf and for Ed Solomon to receive writing credit.

As both the original and final writers, Bennett and Runté were committed to introducing the directorial vision and ultimately distilling it into a fun and original narrative. The film would not have had as much connection to the Mushroom Kingdom milieu without their determination to deliver an adventure deserving of the fans.




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