It was a great, big, beautiful tomorrow at Disneyland on May 9 for the bow of Disney’s adventure “Tomorrowland,” director Brad Bird‘s nod to Walt Disney’s vision of a utopian future in which science rules.
Disney pulled out all the stops by walling off Disneyland’s Tomorrowland to premiere guests, transporting them away from the throngs of park visitors into a party world of their own, complete with no waits to ride on all of the land’s attractions. That’s right. The longest wait was five minutes for Space Mountain. The vastness of Tomorrowland made for one of the least crowded premiere parties ever. It was a dream come true for Disneyland enthusiasts and jaded premiere attendees alike.
Star George Clooney and wife Amal brought along niece Mia Alamuddin to the red carpet at Downtown Disney. Of the film, Clooney said: “I liked the idea and how hopeful it was. I like that it decided how the future wasn’t inevitable and there’s something you can do about it.”
The future is what Disneyland’s Tomorrowland is all about, and if Bird could design a ride for it, it would be “jetpacks that work.” Bird’s co-screenwriter, Damon Lindelof, echoed that: “Jetpacks. Definitely jetpacks. I like going on rides with other people, but I think it would be really cool to have an experience that’s yours and yours alone. Soarin’ Over California in California Adventure is one of my favorite rides. Just do it with a jetpack.”
Walt Disney’s spirit of innovation is what inspired Lindelof and Bird on the “Tomorrowland” script. “Walt was a futurist. He was very interested in space travel and what cities were going to look like and how transportation was going to work,” said Lindelof. “Walt’s thinking was that the future is not something that happens to us. It’s something we make happen. And we really wanted to take that baton and run with it.”
While the film clearly deals with science and visions of the future, the filmmakers have been very cagey about keeping the plot under wraps. “Brad has been vigilant about protecting the secrets of the movie,” said Lindelof. “I think it’s kind of exciting to sit in your seat and go, ‘I don’t know what’s about to happen.'”
Keegan-Michael Key, who plays an unusual shopkeeper in the film, said, “I feel like I signed six NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). They did a really good job of keeping it under wraps.”
Key, of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele,” fresh off his gig at the recent White House Correspondents’ dinner, talked about what it was like to work with President Obama. Key got to play Luther, Obama’s Anger Translator, with the real deal. “So rarely does a character get to come to life. To be able to actually do its literal function is amazing. Who gets to do that?”
Key’s dream ride at Tomorrowland would be something like the pin that transports the main character of the film to another place. “You’d sit in a car, and then you’d touch a pin, and then you’d be in that other place. That, and portable jetpacks.” There are those jetpacks again.
For busy composer Michael Giacchino, who scored this summer’s “Inside Out” and “Jurassic World” as well as “Tomorrowland,” it was a difficult, but fun year. “I loved all three of these movies and I loved the people I worked with. Working with your friends makes it so much better. These aren’t really jobs, they’re sort of adventures.” For “Tomorrowland,” Giacchino wanted the music to have a feeling of optimism. “Sort of a mix of nostalgia and optimism — nostalgic optimism, which is something missing from our world today. Everything we see, everything we consume is so dark and cynical. I just wanted this film to feel good and positive.”
While secrecy shrouds the film, pic’s Matthew MacCaull was able to give a little background about his character. “He’s very invested in Tomorrowland and making sure it remains safe. He’s very mysterious and very cool.” McCaull’s character is named Dave Clark, and the actor took his inspiration from the same-named ’60s rocker. “That was my whole play on this,” he said.
Astronaut Leland Melvin, who flew two missions to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, walked the blue carpet to help promote science, technology engineering, arts and mathematics education. “Movies are the greatest place to show kids what they can do to help us create the future,” he said.
Also joining in all the fun were Disney execs Alan Horn and Robert Iger; the usual assortment of ABC stars, including “The Bachelor” and “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Chris Soules; the film’s Britt Robertson, Kathryn Hahn, and Tim McGraw, with wife Faith Hill; and legendary Disney songwriter Richard Sherman.
(Pictured: Mia Alamuddin, Amal Clooney, George Clooney, Robert Iger and Willow Bay ride the monorail at the “Tomorrowland” premiere at Disneyland.)