Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird’s big, upcoming project with Disney –formerly titled 1952– remains almost entirely a mystery, despite having a hero and villain already cast (or at least in negotiations).
Those vague roles will be filled by George Clooney and Hugh Laurie (if he signs on) respectively, with word of the latter potentially joining on coming today from THR. Despite casting notices already dripping out though, nary a plot detail has dripped with them. All we know is that this bears a tonal resemblance to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (a scrap that has likely been harped on far beyond its meaningfulness) and that Lindelof tells an interesting story of the projects inception, one in which he is granted access to a box labeled “1952” leftover from the earliest days of Walt Disney’s earliest imagineering department.
Now what makes all this so weird is that a Tomorrowland project was supposedly in development at Disney back in 2008 based on a script from Hangover scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. It would have starred Dwayne Johnson and was reportedly a space adventure inspired by the them park. Disney denied the whole of that news, saying the project was an original scifi story and that it would not bear the name of the park. Now we have a scifi project from Lindelof and Bird that is definitely titled Tomorrowland, long after that project withered on the vine.
Further loading this project with mystery is that with its new title, Tomorrowland joins Jon Favreau’s Magic Kingdom on the list of Disney films bearings theme park names. I don’t know what that means exactly, and I have only circumstantial evidence to support a suspicion that Disney is going to start building a movie universe out of their more abstract properties and granular theme park areas, but that Marvel-esque line of thinking is certainly all the rage right now. Magic Kingdom is set to be a sort of Night At The Museum for Disneyland (a family falls into an alternate reality version of the park), whereas Tomorrowland is surely a more singular narrative film. Besides, beyond Space Mountain Tomorrowland is not a theme park with an abundance of recognizable, iconic imagery associated with it. The park represents more of a tone and a sensibility that Walt Disney was obsessed with.
EDIT: It’s been pointed out to me that not everyone is buying Lindelof’s assurances that aliens aren’t involved. Considering he’s of the JJ school of “lying through his goddamn teeth,” it wouldn’t be a shock if this turns out to be the story of government discovery of alien contact, and one that includes the Disney park/Walt Disney as the means by which the government lets the public know.
Lots of questions, but with today’s casting of Hugh Laurie we know at least one thing for sure: it’s not lupus.