With so much speculation about the future of Tomorrowland at Disneyland with the Magic Eye Theater being used for Disney movie previews, Innoventions having closed, Rocket Rods having long ago been shut down and never replaced, and Autopia not really fitting in the world of tomorrow, the question had to be asked at the Tomorrowland press conference – will there be a Tomorrowland attraction based on the new movie and if so what will it be like? I was able to ask that question to the cast and creators of Disney Pictures newest movie, Tomorrowland at a recent press conference for the film. Britt Robertson (who plays Casey Newton in the movie) answered, “I think they should just update the Carousel of Progress a little bit. You know what I mean?” Brad Bird (director, producer and writer) chimed in, “…George is pitching jetpacks. He wants everyone issued one. They can just fly around the park. And now that they serve alcohol in the park, I think that would be a great deal of fun.” George Clooney (who played Frank Walker) also shared with a smile, “I also am not thrilled of the idea of people in jetpacks flying over my house.” After much laughter, the moderator got everyone back on track and said, “So in other words, no, there’s nothing planned?” To which Damon Lindelof (writer and producer) said, “We’ll see how the movie does.”
One person at the conference made the comment that Walt Disney is never referenced in the film and asked about how Walt’s own vision of the future played into the creation of the movie. Damon answered by saying, “…there is a much longer version of this movie, not necessarily a better one, that is much more explicit about Walt’s involvement. But the idea is that it was very explicit about the idea that he was a member of Plus Ultra (a secret organization of visionaries out to make a better future for humanity), and that Disneyland, particularly Tomorrowland and Disneyland, were covers for the actual Tomorrowland. Our feeling was that aside from trying to find that line in any movie when it gets bogged down by exposition and no longer becomes enjoyable to watch, the feeling was that by directly referencing Disney and Disneyland in a movie that is a Disney movie, it just suddenly felt like, ‘Oh, are we trying to sell tickets to go to the theme park?’”
From the witty repartee between them, it was easy to tell that this was a close-knit cast who shared a passion for this project. All of them joked and laughed and shared with one another. In many ways, it was like having been invited to a family gathering where we were the guests. The moderator asked George, “You’ve made a lot of bold films in your career, particularly the more political ones. But I think this one is right up there, as far as being quite bold. Do you see it that way?” To which George deadpanned to much laughter, “Putting me in a summer movie is a very bold thought.” George turned to Damon later in the press conference and asked, “What would you do everyday?” meaning in a future where the world was better off, Damon answered, “Softball.” And then asked about George’s “secret rapping skills” Jeff Jensen (who co-wrote the story) said, “Oh, they’re not secret. His rapping skills are well-known.” To which George replied, “They’re well known. In fact, many of the great rappers today have fashioned their stylings from me.” And Jeff responded, “Grand Master G.” One of the funniest parts of the interview was when George was relating how he came onto the project. He said, “…just so we’re clear, when Damon and Brad showed up at my house, they said, ‘We’ve got a part that we’ve written for you.’ And then I opened up the description of the character and it’s a 55-year-old has-been, and I’m kind of going, ‘Hang on a minute, which part am I reading for?'”
But there were touching, serious moments in the press conference also. It was obvious that for the cast and especially for George, Brad, and Damon, they had a fervent interest in showing us a brighter future. To say we can make this world a better place. One of the stories that Damon LIndelof told us that inspired the movie was about Walt’s constant drive to do something to inspire people to a better tomorrow. He talked about Walt’s passion for Epcot and how he wanted it to be a real working city where innovation was part of everyday life, where new ideas would be cultivated and shared with the world. And then suddenly, Walt was in the hospital and Damon told us, “But on his deathbed, he was looking up at the ceiling and pointing out how the city would be laid out. and the fact that he was, to his last moments, dreaming about this future and making crazy ideas happen, and be real, and accelerate the pace of that, was very moving to me. And if the movie caught even a little bit of that, I think we will have succeeded.” If that is the measure of success for this movie, it has already succeeded.
- To read my review of the movie, go to my blog post “Can We Fix It?“
- If you want to read more about Tomorrowland at Disneyland, read my post “Marvel-land? Star Wars Land? Or Something Completely Different?“
- For my interview with Raffey Cassidy, come back on Sunday to read about it on the Disney Nerds blog