KYOTO--Nintendo Co.’s beloved characters such as Mario are expected to make the leap off the console screen to the big screen within a few years, according to the president of the video game giant.

President Tatsumi Kimishima said that the company is negotiating with a number of movie production companies around the world in search of a partner for full-fledged filmmaking.

“We want to do as much as we can by ourselves,” Kimishima told The Asahi Shimbun.

Nintendo hopes to bolster the franchise of its characters by producing movies featuring them, helping to expand the audience for its main business of video games.

The world-renowned video game manufacturer has previously been involved in the movie business, but only to a limited extent. Past Nintendo-related movies were the results of the company licensing featured characters to filmmakers in exchange for royalty payments.

The company now aims to make filmmaking a standalone business.

Nintendo’s movies will target not only the domestic market, but audiences in the United States and other parts of the globe as well. The company aims to release the first movie in two to three years’ time.

Nintendo has not divulged any details of its first film project, but it will likely be a 3-D animated movie featuring such popular video game protagonists as Mario from the Super Mario franchise and Link from the Legend of Zelda series.

Although the development of consoles and video game titles is the company’s bread and butter, sales have been stagnant, with attempts to increase sales challenged by Japan’s dropping birthrates.

When Nintendo closed its books in March, it had made 504.4 billion yen ($4.6 billion) in annual sales, down 8.2 percent from the previous year, marking a decline for seven years in a row.