Disney’s Tomorrowland has been shrouded in mystery since it was first announced at the D23 Expo two years ago. Since then, we’ve been teased with an alternate reality game, a mysterious box found at Disney Studios in Burbank, and even sneak peeks at the film.
Still, the question remains: What is Tomorrowland really all about?
At the film’s press conference a few weeks ago, many questions were answered, yet many still remained. Here’s what we found out:
Disney wanted to change the definition of what a Disney movie should be
It had become evident that Disney’s current film slate is relying on their past successes. With live-action remakes like “Cinderella” and female-skewed animated princess movies, both co-producer Damon Lindelof and president of production for the Walt Disney Studios Sean Bailey wanted change.
“I think that, for me, I’ve always been really interested in the future and I kind of feel like all the movies that I’ve been exposed to over the course of the last 20-30 years have shown me a future that I don’t really want to be living in,” Lindelof said.
He continued, “I sort of wondered what else a Disney movie should be. What about the future, and is there a way to tell that story?” That thought quickly gave way to Lindelof’s own research that lead to his fascination with Disney’s theme parks and those Imagineers who help make them.
“Tomorrowland” is less about a place and more about an ideal.
Lindelof’s discovery of projects like EPCOT and Walt Disney’s knack for entertaining through innovating all drove his story, but probably in totally different way than you’re thinking of. Many people on the web have pre-conceived ideas that Tomorrowland will be about the place with much of the action taking place within it, based off the teaser trailers for the film.
Still, many of the film’s talent were quick to chime in about different concepts concerning the film that draw attention away from an actual Tomorrowland.
George Clooney, who plays the lead male role, said he loved the doing the film because it “speaks to the idea that your future is not preordained and predestined” and can change if you’re involved in that change. “It’s entertainment…but it’s hopeful.”
Director Brad Bird also wanted the focus to be more on the concept about the future. He hopes that his film could encourage NASA to go exploring again. “We can spend our [nation’s] energy creating ways to kill each other, or we can do that,” he said.
The final version of the film cut out many more mentions of Disneyland and Walt Disney.
Even if it isn’t entirely about the famous theme park’s land, it’s obvious that many will be attracted to the film because of it and people who watch. Writer Jeff Jensen, who wrote an enormous backstory to the film, said that he included a lot of Disney references “that informed the movie, especially the ones concerning EPCOT and Walt’s laboratory of the future.”
Lindeloff said that there is a much longer version of the film that included more of Walt Disney and a focus on Disney’s theme park attractions.
Even with the brand synergy, the filmmakers did not want to pack in the Disney-ness too much. “Our feeling was that aside from trying to find that line in any film when it gets bogged down by [brand] 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,” said Lindelof.
Audiences can still expect to see many Disney and Disneyland references in the film as they, including Walt, were a main driver of the entire story.
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And it’s with Walt that Lindelof shared a more serious note from the overall lighthearted press conference, which also gave the biggest clue to what this film is really all about. Rather than pick out his response, it’s best you read his entire response below –
Some of the very last things that Walt Disney filmed were about this experimental prototype community of tomorrow. He filmed this thing. He thought he was healthy. And within days, he went into the doctor and learned that he had terminal lung cancer. But one of the last things he shot, he was talking about the Florida Project. And he was talking about the park and he said, ‘Yeah, there will be an amusement park kind of like Disneyland, but the whole reason to do it, the main attraction, is this!’ And he pointed to the city and said, ‘It’s going to be an actual place that you can try ideas and we’ll take corporations and we’ll collaborate with them on new ideas, and sell the ideas to the world, and try them out.’
And his face lit up when he talked about. The amusement park of it was just like, that’s over on the side, one of those, but the main reason to do it – Which part of it do you think wasn’t done? It’s that part.
And it’s understandable, because you needed somebody like [Walt] as a catalyst to make it happen. But on his deathbed, he was looking up at the ceiling and pointing out how the city would be laid out.
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.
Check for our full, spoiler-free review of Tomorrowland later this week. All will be revealed in the not-too-distant future.