The Grand Idiocy That is Disney's Theme Park Films

Walt Disney World: What the heck is going on?!

From TH Creative
Posted November 28, 2013 at 9:47 PM
Guillermo del Toro is heading up a movie based upon "The Haunted Mansion." Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are to star in a movie based upon the "Jungle Cruise". Jon Favreau is announced heading up a production of a Disney theme park film with Pixar called "Magic Kingdom". There is (FINALLY) annoucements about films based upon the Artemis Fowl franchise.

And then ....

(Insert cricket noises)


From Andrew Dougherty
Posted November 29, 2013 at 9:07 AM
I think that Disney is more or less just using the name than telling story directly related to the ride/park.

From Tim Hillman
Posted November 29, 2013 at 10:41 AM
Hmm. Didn't we already have a movie based on the Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy? Weren't the results of that movie abysmal enough to discourage Disney from wandering down that path again? Maybe we'll get a Pacific Rim treatment of the Haunted Mansion? I can see it now, gigantic robots slugging it out with extraterrestrial ghosts. Maybe we can throw Johnny Depp in for good measure?

What's with Tim Allen and Tom Hanks and Disney? Woody and Buzz or Santa Claus and Walt Disney go on a Jungle Cruise? Hello Disney, there are other actors out there. This narrow minded approach to movie making is making me feel like Disney is heading back to the days of Disney movies in the 1970s and stellar classics like The Apple Dumpling Gang.

Need some clarification here, THC. Disney is finally launching the Artemis Fowl series in movie form and you're unhappy? I'm confused. You've been beating the drum for Artemis Fowl for years on this site, and now it looks like you're getting some of what you've been asking for. Why the disgruntlement?

From TH Creative
Posted November 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM
Guillermo del Toro's take on the "The Haunted Mansion" was announced. He even showed off a teaser trailer at Comic Con in 2010. Since then ... zero news.

In 2011, Disney announced that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen would star in a movie based upon the "Jungle Cruise". As of late ... silence.

Then we hear that Jon Favreau is going to direct a film (working wih Pixar) called "Magic Kingdom". To date ... no details.

It should probably not surprise anyone to learn that Disney even planned to make a flick based on the Tiki Room (!!!) ... three years after that tease ... crickets.

And yes, I'd love to seen Artemis Fowl on the big screen, but you know what? Since the announcement there have not been a lot of details coming out of Hollywood.

My point is there are a string of films (with big name directors and actors) that have been announced and then suddenly ... vanished.

This causes me to wonder ... what the what?

From James Trexen
Posted November 29, 2013 at 2:45 PM
As I understand, it takes time and money to develop movies. Script writers have to be brought in, producers have to be called up, pitches have to be made. Naturally, it takes a while to get past the development stage. But even with that consideration in mind, it would make more sense to announce a film closer to the start of principal photography. Better to keep buzz flowing with a later announcement rather than make an early one at the risk of attention eventually disappearing. Some might argue that films are official when casting begins, but as the Jungle Cruise shows, not even that is true. Therefore, I stand by my assertion that movies are only official when filming starts and it would be wise to take such announcements with grains of salt.

From N B
Posted November 29, 2013 at 5:38 PM
Ahhhh, my ridiculously circuitous plan to convert TH to the dark side of Universal is nearly one-quarter complete... After I knock one leg out, it will only take a slight nudge to tip him over.

After that, he and I will be toasting to Harry Potter with double Hurricanes at Pat o'Briens.....

From TH Creative
Posted November 30, 2013 at 4:24 AM
(Rolling my eyes).

Oh come on NB. How many times do I have to reference this THC post from September 2011:

Seriously, there is no denying that the team at Universal Creative has consistently outpaced WDI since the opening of Islands of Adventure. Universal Creative is the GOLD STANDARD for innovation in theme park design.

"The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman," "Men in Black: Alien Attack," "Revenge of the Mummy" "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey." There is not a single WDW attraction that is anywhere near as innovative.

Even "Twister" demonstrates how Universal Creative is more committed to take an extraordinary risk at creating the (apparently) impossible theme park experience.

With the sole exception of the "Jungle Cruise" at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom the team at WDI has not even come close to the productions listed above.


From Andy Milito
Posted November 30, 2013 at 9:31 AM
I presume they're in "Development Hell," where someone may have to write a screenplay over and over, yet the studio still disapproves it. Eventually the writers just quit, and the film is just left there, sometimes resurrected, sometimes left in the garbage heap of movie ideas.

Personally, I think the most intriguing of the three is Del Toro's. Knowing his style of filmmaking, he could make, at minimum, a visually pleasing take on the Haunted Mansion.

From TH Creative
Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:03 AM
Andy Milito writes: "I presume they're in "Development Hell ..."

I Respond: Yeah, I get that, but this circumstance seems extraordinary. This is multiple films, based upon Disney theme parks/theme park attractions which are announced with big name stars and directors and then ... poof! They vanish.

I can't think of a single studio ever experiencing such a sequence of events surrounding projects with such common denomenaters.

From robert morris
Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM
just looked for all of them in IMDB and not one of them is still listed on anyone's profiles

By and large IMDB has a pretty good track record of keeping things straight

At least we have Escape from Tommorrow

From N B
Posted November 30, 2013 at 8:05 PM
TH, you remind me of the Sheldon Cooper character from Big Bang Theory.... he doesn't understand sarcastic humor either.

From TH Creative
Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:01 PM

From N B
Posted November 30, 2013 at 8:08 PM

From Tyler Harris
Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:11 PM
These either might have been canceled projects, or IMDB isn't so sure about whether is really will happen. And didn't Eddie Murphy already do a Haunted Mansion movie?? A Jungle Cruise movie sounds sort of weird. And a Pixar Magic Kingdom movie might have no plot. Perhaps make a Kingdom Keepers movie?

From Andy Milito
Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:33 PM
Actually, they still are listed on IMDb, albeit in pretty dead conditions:

"Magic Kingdom" still has Favreau attached to the project's page:

"Jungle Cruise" has a page, but Hanks' and Allen's name are nowhere found on the page anymore:

"The Haunted Mansion," like "Magic Kingdom," has Del Toro's name on it, but nothing else:

Also, with a little bit of searching, Del Toro said in an interview with "/Film" that the Haunted Mansion is still a possibility if Disney can ever find a writer. This is recent too, this was an interview for his most recent film, Pacific Rim. His full response:

"Yeah, we are still pursuing a writer that is very hard to get. We are meeting with them. The problem is I don’t want just anyone to rewrite the screenplay. I wrote the screenplay with Mathew Robbins and I really want somebody that will bring a lot to it, but Disney is aching to make it and I’m aching to make it. If we could… If you know of anyone who can write, because I’m only going to produce it, I would love to hear."

From Anthony Murphy
Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Come, Come, TH. Disney has put out some pretty good attractions that would compete with your Universal Examples (except Harry Potter and Spiderman). I really am not a fan of the Mummy.

As for Theme Park Attraction movies: Pirates of the Caribbean? Hello?

Using Haunted Mansion and all the Pirates movies, I think Disney has had a pretty good record for attraction movies. Now, all of the ones mentioned might stink, but lets see what comes out. Who would have thought that Disney had a gall to portray Walt himself...and that looks pretty good!

From Matt Babiak
Posted December 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM
I actually enjoyed the original HM movie. Maybe enjoyed is too strong... I didn't mind spending money to see it. Movie was funny enough.

From TH Creative
Posted December 2, 2013 at 4:25 PM
Anthony, you may be missing my point. I'm not saying these are bad ideas for movies. I'm saying Disney has announced three films that would be based on theme parks and/or attractions. They went so far as to identify the actors and/or directors who would be involved in these films.

And then all three vanished. Same kind of movie and then ... they're gone.

Very strange!

From Robert Niles
Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:08 PM
I think Disney's film division was in the habit of throwing (stuff) up against the wall to see what would stick.

So, as a result, I no longer believe Disney Studio announcements until I see the movie being filmed and a released date slotted. Everything else is just hype.

And BTW, TH, I think you missed a "Big Thunder Mountain" movie or TV show that also was in the mix at one point.

From Oak A
Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:32 PM
As someone who follows the film industry intently, I can tell you that Mr. Niles is entirely correct in that Disney often preemptively announces projects, and then abandons them. Disney is Hollywood's biggest studio, and so you might think that if something is announces, than it has been confirmed. But no. Disney employs this practice often. I feel the primary reason is that writers who are signed to a project, they realize that they are now involved in creating something that is a direct component of Hollywood's greatest brand, and at that one of the entire world's most illustrious. They simply can't deliver a suitable product, or what they do deliver is insufficient. Also, as with every studio, titan or elfin, production schedules are often jostled around as studios try to gain the upper hand. A studio cannot saturate the theaters with blockbusters, and so inevitably some tent-pole projects subside and wane until they are gone.

Additionally, there is no reason to announce a film without the actual intent of green-lighting the project. There really isn't. Everytime a project is announced, there is underlying intent. Some projects fizzle because the material simply didn't conform to what Disney expected. Some for other reasons stated above. And some simply because the involved parties lost interest.

In regards to the individual projects you referenced:

Haunted Mansion-As you can see del Toro has affirmed continued interest, but he has an immense amount on his plate at the moment. He, by all accounts, has his hands in so many pots that he might as well be busboy at a Little Sheep restaurant (Wikipedia can help you with this reference).

Jungle Cruise-All but dead. The script could not be finalized.

Magic Kingdom-This one is not entirely decedent quite yet. However, I don't think Pixar is involved at all.
Artemis Fowl-Co-production with the Weinstein Company. Project is stable as far as I know, in pre-production.

Big Thunder Mountain-A pilot was ordered by ABC (more like Disney ordered ABC to order the project).

Also, Tomorrowland is receiving a film, set for a May 2015 release.

From TH Creative
Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:09 AM
Oh for Pete's Sake! Now Favreau is directing a live action 'Jungle Book' for Disney?!

From three weeks ago:

And actually, Pixar does in fact have some involvement in 'Magic Kingdom.'

From The article: "Unfortunately, Favreau lining up to helm Jungle Book signals an even longer delay on his Magic Kingdom adaptation. Indeed, it’s been a while since we had a firm update on that gestating Disney theme park-based project..."


"... which is partly the brainchild of screenwriter Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica). Last we heard, Favreau has sought additional help with development, from no less than the creative studio heads over at Pixar."

From Oak A
Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:44 AM
Yes, he may be seeking creative assistance from Pixar, but I doubt they will produce the film, nor would they even assist in the animation department (if this is applicable). Pixar has never once utilized a character that was not of their creation (aside from the toy brands utilized within the Toy Story franchise), so I doubt they would break this tradition.

From Russell Meyer
Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:38 AM
I think this is a common practice in the film industry. Movies go in and out of pre-production all of the time, and it's not suprising to see projects get announced and subsequently go on the back burner and reinvigorated with a new team of artists. It happens all the time. Sometimes I wonder how any movies get made these days with all of the politics, stops and starts, and interchange of actors and directors that happens to seemingly every project nowadays.

Personally, I try not to get lured in by pre-production movie announcements. Until a film has a hard release and an official production schedule, it's not happening yet in my book. Even then, films can sometimes be derailed, but typically they're just delayed and not cancelled. Once in a while, if a movie is REALLY bad, it will sit in the can for a few years and released some August or January, the preverbial dumping grounds for the industry.

I think fretting over a project announcement with inked directors, actors, and producers is not worth it. Really, all these pre-production announcements are just fodder for fanboys and the ET-watching crowd.

From TH Creative
Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:03 AM
I just think the pre-production announcements particular to this thread are just weird. All are Disney ... All are theme park attraction based films ... And all have suddenly vanished. I mean, Disney (nor any rumor mill) has not seen to verify their demise.

I mean, if this is such a common practice, can anyone name other Disney film projects (note that's plural) that were announced by the company ... and then disappeared?

From James Trexen
Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Maybe this time Disney can release a live action Jungle Book movie that's actually suitable for kids.

From Russell Meyer
Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Disney announced the partnership with Robert Zemekis and his 3-D motion-capture studio to release a remake of "Yellow Submarine" to be relased in time for the 2012 London Olympics. They had announced cast, and then quietly cancelled production after the Jim Carey/3-D CGI "A Christmas Carol" flopped.

"Fantasia 3" has been in and out of production for well over a decade (and may still get revitalized).

"Newt" was announced as a new original effort from Disney/Pixar, but was cancelled in favor of "Toy Story 3."

Another adaptation of "Jack and the Beanstalk" was announced by Disney in the late '00's but was ultimately cancelled.

There have been rumors for dozens of other movie concepts that never even got to the announcement stage. I just think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. The acquisitions of Marvel and LucasFilm gives Disney plenty of material to fill a release schedule without having to green-light these marginal ideas until they can be fully developed.

From Andy Milito
Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:31 PM
^ I didn't remember any of those besides Newt. I remember that one though, they had concept art and stuff done, but they canceled it right after.

From TH Creative
Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:50 PM
Thanks for those few examples.

But while these are certainly productions that were apparently proposed (couldn't find a news source on F3 or JATBS) and cancelled, the issue I've brought up is quite a bit different.

As this is a theme park website I find it interesting that SIX (I found another one) theme park related Disney movies were announced and then ... nothing. Not even an announced cancellation!

Even more remarkable is that this occurred over a relatively short period of time (between 2010 and 2012)

Haunted Mansion (2010)
Enchanted Tiki Room (2011)
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (2012)
Jungle Cruise (2012)
Magic Kingdom (2012)
Big Thunder Mountain (2012)

An extraordinary WTF turn of events.

From Russell Meyer
Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:56 PM
Again, I think the timing would correspond with the Marvel and LucasFilm acquisitions.

What's your theory TH?

From TH Creative
Posted December 4, 2013 at 5:52 AM

From TH Creative
Posted December 4, 2013 at 6:35 AM
DS = (TPM*6) - (R * [x*Infinity])

Solve for x

From Russell Meyer
Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:03 AM
That's too easy TH, x=42.

From TH Creative
Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Okay here's a harder one ... explain Mos Def's appearance in the flick ... That one confounds me.

From Oak A
Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:13 AM
I bet that you don't realize you're discussing a Disney film.

From Oak A
Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:13 AM
I bet that you don't realize you're discussing a Disney film.

From Russell Meyer
Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Orlando Jones wasn't available TH. I actually don't mind Mos Def as an actor. He was really good in Michel Gondre's "Be Kind Rewind", and isn't awful in HGTTG. Certainly an odd cast at the time, but not terrible. Sam Rockwell was perfect though, as he is in most roles. It's amazing to think he still doesn't even have an Oscar nomination.

And yes, I'm aware Disney/Touchstone produced the film.

From TH Creative
Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:03 PM
How many times do I have to answer Oak A's question?

From Oak A
Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:05 PM
The next question you may answer is: How was my previous post a question? As for the film, Martin Freeman was the best actor in my opinion. It is almost like Eugene Levy is Canada's Martin Freeman, or Rick Moranis/Wallace Shawn is the US' Martin Freeman, because they all play fretful, slightly nebbish characters wonderfully.

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