In 1993, the makers of The Killing Fields and Chariots of Fire bought the film rights to the world’s biggest video game. The result was a commercial disaster. But that’s only part of the story

Dennis Hopper was not happy.

It was the summer of 1992, a few weeks into shooting Super Mario Bros: The Motion Picture and the atmosphere on set was febrile. Endless rewrites and script splices had scrambled the story and dialogue. Producers, writers and investors were all working at cross purposes with the directors, the British couple Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton. On set, there were 300 extras waiting to film the next scene. The lines Hopper was about to deliver had been changed at the last moment, and not for the first time. He was dressed as a humanoid dinosaur, heavily made up in the sweltering North Carolina heat, his hair gelled into a weird row of reptilian spikes.

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