It seems like everything Damon Lindelof works on has a certain air of secrecy surrounding it. After ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’, whose secrets you can find in theaters today, the most mysterious project that the ‘Prometheus’ co-writer is working on is his collaboration with ‘The Iron Giant’ and ‘The Incredibles’ director Brad Bird called ‘Tomorrowland’.
Previously, the two filmmakers tweeted pictures of a box filled with seemingly random contents, but the things in the box were connected to their upcoming film. At the time, no one had any idea what the movie was about, but a few months later, we discovered that George Clooney and Hugh Laurie would be the stars and the story would involve an unlikely collection of individuals as they “attempt to get to and unravel what happened to Tomorrowland, which exists in an alternative dimension, in order to save Earth”. Though we had gotten some info on what to expect, the whole thing was still largely unknown to the world.
Recently, in an extremely in-depth interview with Grantland (which you should definitely make time to check out), Lindelof goes into detail about the origins of ‘Tomorrowland’ and, for the first time publicly, the ties it has with the Walt Disney theme park land with the same name.
First, he talks about his fascination with the Happiest Place On Each and the stories that held within those walls:
“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.”
After the seed had been planted in his brain to give a story to one of the most beloved parts of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, he shared that a controversial scientist pushed his idea even further:
“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.”
Finally, he goes back to the mystery box that started all of this talk online in the first place and said that there are more where that one came from. He also said that we may even get to see the contents of the original box sooner rather than later:
“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.”
As someone who is also extremely fascinated by the Disney parks, this all sounds incredibly interesting to me. I never really realized until Lindelof said that Tomorrowland didn’t have as prominent a story as the rest of the areas, and now that he’s working on one, I’m very curious to see what he comes up with.
What do you think about the origins of ‘Tomorrowland’? Are you curious about how Disney history will be weaved into this tale as well? Share your thoughts on all of this in the comments section.