Damon Lindelof Talks Extensively About Inception of 'Tomorrowland'
Right now the plot details for Brad Bird's original Disney project Tomorrowland, which has George Clooney and Hugh Laurie attached to star, are still under right wraps. There have been theories about UFOs and other guesses resulting from digging in the "mystery box" that Bird revealed earlier this year. Thankfully, in an interview with Grantland (via SlashFilm), writer Damon Lindelof talked a bit about the new project, and while he didn't reveal any big secrets, he did talk about the inception of the story, how Bird ended up getting involved, and how this ties in to the Disney theme park area of the same name. Read on!
Speaking about the inspiration that Disney's theme parks gave to the film Tomorrowland, Lindelof says:
I’ve always been fascinated by Disneyland and Disney World, and my favorite part of the park was always Tomorrowland. But there’s no story there. Like, if you go into Fantasyland, there’s just story happening all around you everywhere, whether it’s sort of a direct kind of connection to a movie that you know or a fairy tale that you know, and the same with, like, Frontierland, or when you go in the Haunted Mansion. My son, who’s 6, when he went on Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time, Jack Sparrow is a part of that ride. He’s going to see the movies in two years, when he’s old enough, and he’s going to think that the movies were the inspiration for the ride, versus the other way around. I would love to do that for Tomorrowland, you know? I would love to give Tomorrowland a story, because right now, Tomorrowland is kind of being taken over by Star Wars — which is great, but it’s called Tomorrowland. Star Wars is a galaxy a long time ago, far, far away. Star Wars is not about our future.
And now that Disney firmly has Star Wars in their wheelhouse, you can bet all their sci-fi park material will likely tie into the mega franchise somehow. However, it sounds like Tomorrowland has more in common with the realm of science than the world of Disney. Lindelof explains:
And there’s this Neil deGrasse Tyson speech — you can YouTube it — and he gave an eloquent and beautiful talk about how the abandonment of the space program after we landed on the moon is responsible for the fact that we no longer have an optimistic view of our future. I just said, 'There’s a movie in there somewhere.' And that was the beginning of me curating this rather fascinating 'is it or isn’t it?' Disney history in this kind of Dan Brown, Da Vinci Code way. Like, all these things that I didn’t know about, the history of Tomorrowland in the park, and could that be the basis of something? Even though the movie is not about the park — I will say this exclusively to you, that none of the movie takes place in a Disneyland park. It doesn’t, but that history became the inspiration for this amazing story.
I brought Jeff Jensen in, who had come up with all these amazing theories about 'Lost' while it was on, some of which were just so much better than what we were coming up with in the room. I said, 'Come in and look at this stuff and talk to me about it,' and then we started coming up with the germs of a really cool story, and then at the same time, I was hanging out with Bird, because we were both in the Bad Robot universe; he was posting 'Ghost Protocol' as we were working on 'Into Darkness.' I kind of got my hooks in him because I started asking him all these questions about Disney, because he worked there for a number of years and was basically trained by a couple of the original Imagineers, and he was like, 'Why are you asking me these questions?' and I said, I’m working on this project regarding Tomorrowland,' and then he was in. And then we went and picked up George Clooney, and we were off to the races.
So what about those theories that are out there regarding the plot of the film? Will this be another film that is kept in super secrecy like his colleague J.J. Abrams tries all the time? Lindelof talks about the theories out there and wanting to keep a sense of wonder about any story:
"There’s a lot of things out there about the movie, some of which are completely and totally erroneous, some of which are completely and totally dead-on, and I don’t know why I keep finding myself being a secret-keeper, but at the same time, the movie’s going to come out Christmas of ’14, which is 19 months from now. So to just say like, “Here — this is the story of a blah blah blah that then goes to so so so and discovers a blah blah blah, and then everybody lives happily ever after” — I just, I hate that feeling when the trailer is, like, awesome for the first 40 seconds, and then they show you that one thing and you just go, “Ugh, I wish I didn’t know that.”
So how about that mystery box that was revealed not too long ago? What are fans supposed to take away from that? Will we learn more about its contents in the future?
"This box. This box is — ironically or fortuitously or coincidentally, or maybe this is why I was interested in it, it’s another infamous mystery box, except this mystery box can be opened and displayed and shared. I will say that by the end of this summer, summer of ’13, we will be giving an explicit sort of curation of what inspired the movie, and then people will at least have a sense of what we’re excited about doing, if not the story.
That history of the company is really amazing, particularly the history of the parks. The Disney company went public, and then Walt started WED, which was his little black-ops division. He hired these guys to start developing these really interesting ideas, some of which got made and some of which didn’t, some of which have been seen, some of which haven’t.
This stuff — it’s a little bit like that Ark of the Covenant room, except it’s not just one room; it’s spread out over these three campuses in Burbank. And nobody’s going through this stuff. There’s just not enough time in the day. Like, if it’s the original cel art for 'Lady and the Tramp,' that stuff is fiercely guarded and catalogued, but if it’s just random miscellany that nobody knows what to do with, it’s just kind of sitting there. So this particular box, the box we tweeted — Disney was developing '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.' [David] Fincher’s developing it now, but before that, I think McG was developing it, and I think he requested all the design work from the original ride in Disneyland, the Nautilus ride. And this box was in with that stuff. You know, what was it doing there? Who knows — but what’s more exciting is there’s probably, like, 50 boxes like that waiting."
Could Tomorrowland just be the beginning of something spectacular at Disney? Though the House of Mouse is franchise crazy with Pixar, Marvel and now Star Wars under their banner, this is exactly the kind of original project that inspired the very filmmakers who are behind them. Rarely are there live-action adventures made from Disney anymore that don't have some sort of established interactive property, so this is what the doctor ordered. The fact that this story just came out of a briefcase that has been sitting around somewhere is even more intriguing, and we can't wait to hear some more, likely around the time of D23.