Disney has never been shy about leveraging any and every one of their properties to turn a profit. Adaptations, remakes, and sequels have been the lifeblood of the studio for some time now, keeping in line with the greater trend in Hollywood. One resource they have that most others don’t though? Their expansive theme park. Disneyland features a smattering of rides that over the years have seen themselves made into full-on movies, beginning in 2003 with The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
While Haunted Mansion was largely considered to be a flop, Pirates morphed into the studio’s most lucrative franchise, spawning four sequels (with one yet to be released in 2017). This in turn has inspired them to take another Disneyland staple and turn it into a full-on movie in Tomorrowland, the section of the theme park devoted to the “world of the future” ideals we harbored back in the 1960s. It’ll be our first new Disneyland adaption since Curse of the Black Pearl hit theaters over a decade ago.
Until very recently, we weren’t all that certain what Tomorrowland would be like, with early teasers featuring nothing but quick cuts and an ambiguous George Clooney voiceover. But with the full-length trailer now out, we’ve gotten a good look at a film that appears to at the very least be visually appealing if nothing else. It’s set to star Hugh Laurie (House) alongside Clooney and Britt Robinson (Life Unexpected), making for a cast that’s refreshingly light on your run-of-the-mill A-list cast that many movies like this tend to lean on heavily.
But any concerns we’ve had about the plot have been superseded by wondering if it will go the way of Pirates after its wildly successful and fun first movie. Subsequent sequels for the franchise saw it decline in quality with every new release, leading us to the latest effort that scored a paltry 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. In the process, it became a series that depended more on rehashing tired jokes with dragged-out action sequences, focusing more on making money than creating good cinema. As another Disney franchise based on a similar concept, there’s a built-in fear that Tomorrowland will be doomed to the same fate.
Of course we can’t make any concrete judgments until the movie itself comes out, but the worry remains. Pirates started with a film that basked in the fun and adventure of Jack Sparrow, never trying to be more than it was: an adventure romp on the high seas. The rest of the series attempted to reach far beyond this, diving down a canyon of quality until the story barely made sense, and virtually all the characters became caricatures of themselves. Tomorrowland would do well to use this as a cautionary tale for how not to be if it seems similar success with its initial release.
This all of course becomes a moot point if it flops at the box office, but Tomorrowland has built significant buzz since we first saw it surface. Now that we have more details about key plot points, we can begin speculating as to how it’ll measure up against the roadmap that Pirates of the Caribbean followed. The obvious hope is that Disney will use that to their advantage, rather than continuing to repeat the same mistakes all over again.
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