Scripts

 


 

Featured on this page are seven early scripts for the film, dating from the original fantasy production to the science fiction-oriented concept that would later be realized on film.

These drafts are presented in order by the date in which they were written with brief notes on the tone, themes and content within as well as the reason why they were revised further.

Original Fantasy Script - Transitional Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pitch - "GhostBusters" Sci-Fi/Comedy Draft - "Die Hard" Sci-Fi/Action Draft

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

Original Fantasy Script

Writers: Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker

Revision Date: 17th July 1991

Download: 114 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

Envisioned by writers Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein (The Flintstones, Richie Rich) as a comedic take on fairy tale themes in the same vein as The Princess Bride (and eventually the “Shrek” series), this gem of a screenplay gives us a glimpse of what the film would have been like if it were a more direct, cartoonish adaptation of the games.

The story follows brothers Mario and Luigi as they attempt to rescue Princess Hildy from the evil King Koopa in a wacky world reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. This screenplay laid the groundwork for how the characters were used by later writers: Mario is the reluctant hero, while Luigi is the dreamer who gets the girl. Both must overcome deep-stemmed differences to become “brothers” for the first time.

This script and its writing team were let go following the departure of director Greg Beeman. Without another director willing to take over the project as it was, the producers were forced to go with the wildly different concept pitched by husband-and-wife directing team Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel of Max Headroom fame.


Transitional Sci-Fi/Fantasy Pitch

Writers: Parker Bennett and Terry Runté

Revision Date: 28th October 1991

Download: 9 Pages

Overview:

This pitch by budding writers Parker Bennett and Terry Runté (Mystery Date, The Princess and the Cobbler) represents the early transition from Jennewein/Parker’s fantasy-oriented take on Super Mario Bros. to the more grounded sci-fi take of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel.

Parker and Terry felt that the story was never funny, scary or outlandish enough, so to make it more compelling they sought to focus more on Mario and Luigi’s relationship, to develop Daisy into a more proactive character and to expand Koopa’s plot so that it would also endanger Earth.

However, the pitch still contains various fantastical elements, including Mario and Luigi being icons of a “prophecy,” a magical talking book that aids them on their quest and a mushroom-infested world complete with a castle. The sci-fi concept of a parallel world inhabited by humanoid dinosaurs is essentially only retrofitted onto the fantasy story already written.




"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:

Heavily inspired by the genre-aware sensibilities of Ghostbusters and its star Bill Murray, writers Parker and Terry envisioned a world that didn’t take itself too seriously despite the serious implications oozing from the city sewers.

Their initial opening for the film saw Mario as a sleazier, more Bill Murrayesque-type character. However, once Parker and Terry discovered that Bob Hoskins was being sought for the role they realized they needed to rewrite the character as someone 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 sincere characters. Likewise, the world of Dinohattan feels just as real with its mishmash of world architecture and fashion inspired by both reptilian sentiment and more clever game references (coin-stuffed phone booths and the “Donut Land donut shop” stand out) than later drafts would care to work out.

Unfortunately, a rushed third act comprised of thematically-inappropriate game references and an uninspired climax unravels an otherwise promising take on the games. With the studio pressing to get the film into production as quickly as possible, Parker and Terry were ultimately let go before they could revise the final act in further drafts. Ironically, they would later be brought back to rewrite, add and polish scenes for a film still struggling to balance tone with pacing.




"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 shortly after Parker Bennett and Terry Runté in an attempt to steer the story closer towards the directors’ vision of a more adult-oriented adventure. The result in this draft was a transitional narrative somewhere between Bennett and Runté’s comedic sensibility and Clement and la Frenais’ own “mature” and action-packed take.

The overall structure of the previous script remains intact, with only the tone drastically changed due to the removal of comedic timing or genre self-awareness. Many elements and concepts from Parker & Terry’s earlier draft remain, though are now re-imagined more sincerely or satirically. The one (misguided) attempt at humor is a scene in which Bruce Willis, in homage to Die Hard, cameos in the air ducts of Koopa’s Tower.




"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:

Writers Dick Clement & Ian la Frenais really hit their stride in this second draft that fully realizes their vision of a more mature, gritty and action-packed adventure into a parallel world of humanoid dinosaurs. While humor is still largely absent, so too are the holdovers from Parker & Terry’s initial sci-fi draft that simply wouldn’t work under their new direction.

Their take comes across much more sophisticated and adult-oriented than before with its “Mad Max”-style death races in the desert, wry British political satire and hedonistic behavior among the reptilian populace. However, the trade-off for this stronger narrative is a much looser connection to the games.

This script and its promise of maturity and character-presence brought actors Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper and Fiona Shaw onto the project. To their surprise and annoyance, they were given a completely new script by yet another team of writers once they arrived on set to begin filming. This new script would lack the political and social depth of before in favor of something lighter and more practical.




"Disney" Sci-Fi/Romance Draft

Writers: Ed Solomon and Ryan Rowe

Revision Date: 17th April - 13th July 1992

Download: 112 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

Once production started to move forward producers Roland Joffé and Jake Eberts began to worry that the project had skewed too far from the original vision of a childrens' film. In hopes of returning to that spirit while also preserving the current production they hired writers Ed Solomon and Ryan Rowe to act as script doctors to the previous work by Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais. This new script was written without input from the directors, which would form a rift between them and the producers throughout the duration of the project.

The aim of this new script was to remove or lighten the mature undertones, in favor of a lighter and more practical adventure for the family. Many key scenes were rewritten with a smaller budget in mind, including the climax which now saw Koopa de-evolved into a Yoshi-like creature rather than the original towering T. rex. Most prominent is the addition of a Disneyesque wedding sequence for the film's ending in which Mario marries girlfriend Daniella; this subplot would remain in the film, only to be cut in the editing room.




"Rainbow" Sci-Fi/Action Draft

Writers: Ed Solomon, Parker Bennett and Terry Runté

Revision Date: 17th April 1992

Download: 118 Pages

Synopsis: Mark Johnston

Overview:

The "rainbow" shooting script, so named because of the countless number of colored revision pages, provides the most clear look at what may have actually been filmed. These revisions were begun by Ed Solomon himself, only to be continued by original writers Parker Bennett and Terry Runté after the pair appeared on set and were subsequently rehired.

Working closely with the directors and cast, Parker and Terry went on to rejuvenate the script and return it to the level of fun and sophistication it once had. Extraneous scenes were removed, streamlining and focusing the story, while others were rewritten to accomodate character development and special effects.

Although this script is perhaps the finest example of too many people working against the same project, it still stands as the fruition of a massive creative effort that ultimately came to be something worthwhile.




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