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Disneyland Article
Disney Getting Good At Recycling Movie Ideas From Disneyland Rides

Pirates Of The Caribbean
Orange County Register
Robert Niles
April 19, 2017
April 23, 2017
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If Disney CEO Bob Iger ends up running for California governor - as has been rumored - I'm sure that the environment will stand atop his platform, because nobody in the entertainment business recycles more than Disney.

Animated movies becoming live action films, movies becoming theme park rides, theme park rides becoming movies. It's the Circle of Life, Hollywood style.

Most recently, Disney announced plans to make a movie based on its Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who last year voiced the demigod Maui in Disney's "Moana."

If a Jungle Cruise movie sounds familiar, Disney announced the same project 10 years ago, except that time it was Woody and Buzz from "Toy Story" - Tom Hanks and Tim Allen - slated to play the leads. Disney loves recycling its talent, too.

The company is hoping to duplicate the box office success of its Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which launched in theaters with "Curse of the Black Pearl" in 2003 and continues next month with the release of "Dead Men Tell No Tales," the fifth film in a series that's grossed more than $1.2 billion dollars in the United States alone.

But Pirates wasn't Disney's first attempt at making a movie from one of its theme park rides. That started with a forgettable TV movie version of "Tower of Terror" back in 1997. "Mission to Mars" then hit theaters in 2000, but that ride had closed in 1992 at Disneyland and 1993 at Walt Disney World, so it's understandable that hardly anyone made the connection at the time, either.

In what might be Hollywood's best illustration of the cliche, "it's always darkest before the dawn," "The Country Bears" - yes, based on the animatronic characters from Disney's Country Bear Jamboree show - bowed in 2002. It earned just $17 million at the box office, which worked out to a couple bucks for every bad review.

But the next year, Disney broke through with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, which made more than $300 million, earned Johnny Depp an Academy Award nomination and established a formula that Disney's been trying to replicate ever since, without much success.

"The Haunted Mansion," based on the classic ride of the same name, starred Eddie Murphy. It appeared and disappeared like the Hatbox Ghost later that year.

The closest that Disney has come to finding a successful attraction-inspired movie since Pirates was 2015's "Tomorrowland," which included scenes from It's a Small World and the Carousel of Progress. But that was not the smashing success Disney was seeking either.

Meanwhile, Disney started development on a reboot of "The Haunted Mansion," as well as productions based on the Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, It's a Small World, and the entire Magic Kingdom theme park. Plus, those two tries at the Jungle Cruise. None have made it to theaters or TV screens yet.

As much as Disney management would love to reduce motion picture production to a formula, it remains a deeply creative process. Where an idea comes from doesn't matter nearly as much as what a team of artists can do with it. Just look at how Disney and Warner Bros. have fared with the comic book movies. Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe is crushing it with critics and fans, embarrassing Warner's DC franchise.

To Disney's credit, it's allowed many of its recent theme park-inspired movie projects to languish in Hollywood purgatory rather than release anything as bad as "Batman v Superman." Maybe Dwayne Johnson can make the Jungle Cruise work on the big screen. After all, he's about the size of an animatronic bull elephant. But can he handle the most important challenge facing a Jungle skipper? Can he find the backside of water?
Attractions Referenced

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Carousel Of Progress

Country Bear Jamboree

Haunted Mansion

It's A Small World

Jungle Cruise

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Mission To Mars

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Pirates Of The Caribbean

Lands Referenced


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