Theme park to star in film
While Disney is giving its more popular theme park attractions, like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Haunted Mansion,” the bigscreen treatment, what happens when it runs out of rides to adapt?
All roads may lead to the Magic Kingdom, with the Mouse House considering making one of its theme parks the setting of a family adventure similar to Fox’s “Night at the Museum” franchise.
Ronald Moore, behind the recent reboot of the “Battlestar Galactica” TV series, already penned a script based on his own pitch for the project that Marc Abraham and Eric Newman will produce through their Universal-based Strike Entertainment shingle. The initial plot took place inside Disneyland.
But Disney and the producers are looking to develop “Magic Kingdom” further with a new scribe, who has yet to be hired.
While executives say the project isn’t a top priority, it is one they’re keeping their eyes on as a potential platform that could showcase a number of high-profile Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse and friends.
In other words, it would feature well-known Disney-owned icons rather than hint at them the way “Enchanted” did in 2007.
Disney’s Hyperion already publishes Ridley Pearson’s similar-sounding kidlit series, “Kingdom Keepers,” where a group of Florida teens are transformed into holographic guides at Disney World and battle “Sleeping Beauty’s” evil queen Maleficent as the park’s characters come to life.
Idea of a park-to-pic adaptation is nothing to scoff at, considering the “Pirates” franchise has earned $2.7 billion worldwide since the first set sail in 2003.
But “Magic Kingdom” brings with it a number of complications, given the precious real estate and iconic characters involved — one creative misstep could create one very expensive headache for a studio that’s starting to get back on track at the box office.
Disney is keen on producing more family-friendly films that can turn into strong franchises for all of the company’s divisions, and propel a slate of pics that also includes feel-good fare like the horse racing drama “Secretariat” and teen-skewing comedy “Prom.”
“Magic Kingdom” had already been in development before Rich Ross took the reins of the studio and tapped Sean Bailey as president of production.
Some at the studio are referring to “Magic Kingdom” as Disney’s own “Justice League” or “The Avengers” — movies that need other films to rollout at the megaplex in order to introduce audiences — especially younger moviegoers — to a cast of characters or overall properties they may not be fully familiar with.
At Warner Bros., “Justice League” would star DC Comics icons like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash, while Marvel’s “Avengers” features Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk — characters that are getting their own pics first before teaming up. Paramount is distributing the actioner in summer 2012.
For now, Disney is focusing on launching “Tron: Legacy” in December, a reboot that will be prominently integrated into Anaheim’s California Adventure park starting next week. A fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” is lensing in Hawaii, while Guillermo del Toro is readying an adaptation of “The Haunted Mansion,” and David Fincher is behind a new “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” actioner, whose original version was the basis of Disneyland’s original submarine ride. Also in development are scripts based on the “Jungle Cruise” ride and “Tomorrowland,” an outer space adventure that loosely ties in with the themed area of Disneyland.
Separately, Disney is eager to get new takes on classic characters like Maleficent that Tim Burton will helm after successfully relaunching “Alice in Wonderland” as a billion-dollar hit at the box office. A live-action retelling of “Cinderella” is also in the works, while the upcoming “Tangled” is an animated take on Rapunzel.
All could eventually wind up in “Magic Kingdom” in some form.