Though not exactly loose-lipped the studio did offer a few more hints Wednesday at the exhibition industry conference CinemaCon about what’s in store for ticket buyers when the film debuts in May.
Bird, Clooney and screenwriter Damon Lindelof appeared in a short behind-the-scenes feature, in which they revealed that “Tomorrowland” was inspired by Walt Disney’s utopian vision for how technology and science could transform and improve lives. Epcot Center and the theme park’s futurist underpinnings was a guiding force on the film, they said.
“[Disney] was interested in the future and what it could be,” said Clooney.
It was a theme that Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis picked up on in his remarks introducing the film, calling Disney a “filmmaker, innovator, optimist” who believed “nothing was impossible. And it’s a stream of adjectives that encapsulate how Disney views its approach to entertainment-making — heavy on uplift and fantasy, and wholesome enough to avoid alienating family audiences.
Based on a trailer that accompanied the footage, “Tomorrowland” with its pristine cities of tomorrow, rocket ships and android soldiers will allow Bird to deliver on his promise to utilize “a large canvas to paint on.”
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Unlike studio rivals who fill their presentations to theater owners with appearances by big name actors and directors and reams of previously unseen footage, Disney’s presentation was truncated and something of a retread. A trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” already debuted last week, and the studio didn’t tease previews or character art from upcoming tentpole releases such as “Doctor Strange,” “The Good Dinosaur” or “The Jungle Book.”
Of course, Disney’s line-up is so stacked with titles from LucasFilm, Marvel and Pixar that it doesn’t have to spend as much time wooing exhibitors. They want these films regardless of whether or not Johnny Depp or Kermit the Frog shows up to thank them for keeping their pictures in theaters.
For the most part, Disney uses more fanboy-oriented gatherings such as last week’s “Star Wars” convention or ComicCon to prime the pump for its big titles.
“For the first time in 2015 each of those brands will be on display,” said Hollis. “It’s the year they all finally come together.”
Instead of previews, Disney let its own film do the talking, debuting “Inside Out,” its upcoming summer release from Pixar about competing emotions in a young girl’s head, during its two-hour slot.
It did offer up a fresh look at “Ant-Man” that played up the action in contrast to earlier teasers that had emphasized the humorous aspect of a man whose superpower is shrinking to the size of a household pest. Despite a preponderance of explosions, the preview did close on a humorous note. In the footage, Ant-Man and his nemesis Yellow Jacket are engaged in an epic fight while a train hurtles towards them. The camera then pulls back to show two tiny specks and a child’s toy train.
“You’ll never see Thomas the Tank Engine the same way again,” said Hollis.