So, Brad Bird’s hotly-anticipated sci-fi project for Disney – tentatively titled 1952 – now has its official name: Tomorrowland.
Rumors have been swirling online for months that Bird’s film – which will star George Clooney – is to be a Close Encounters-style UFO epic. Bird himself has remained tight-lipped.
In October of last year, Vulture reported on the movie’s mysterious back-story, which goes like this:
last spring, Disney’s head of production, Sean Bailey, arranged for screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Cowboys and Aliens, Prometheus) to be given access to “one of the studio’s odder curiosities: a banker’s box of files and documents that had been left moldering in Walt Disney’s personal development lab, WED Enterprises, which later became the studio’s vaunted Imagineering department.”
According to Vulture’s “spies”, the box was originally labelled with the title of Disney’s 1965 comedy That Darn Cat!, which had been crossed out and in its place was written “1952.” Apparently, inside the box was a “collection of documents and primary source materials that, when looked at all together, indicated that someone had been working on a project (movie? Theme park ride?) about alien contact.”
The identity of this “someone” from Disney’s bygone era working on a project about alien contact was never specified, but I speculated that it might be Ward Kimball – who famously claimed to have worked on an aborted government-sponsored Disney UFO documentary that was supposed to have featured real UFO footage.
However, within hours of publishing his inside scoop on 1952, Vulture’s Claude Brodesser-Akner made a public apology, stating that he had “misunderstood” his source for his story and that Brad Bird’s movie “is not in fact about an alien encounter.”
Now, the movie’s screenwriter Damon Lindelof has chipped in with the following Tweet: “We won't tell you what it's about (yet), but we will tell you what it's NOT about. And that would be ALIENS.”
Teasing us even further, Brad Bird last week Tweeted a picture of the aforementioned “box of files and documents” which is serving as inspiration for this mysterious movie project...
This marks the beginning of what will surely be an elaborate marketing campaign for Tomorrowland, with the contents of the box clearly intended to spark further speculation about the film’s plot. So let the speculation continue...
Looking at the box, we are afforded a glimpse of a magazine cover – which is obviously an issue of Amazing Stories. To be precise, it’s the August 1928 issue, which famously laid the foundations for the adventures of Buck Rodgers in the story Armageddon 2419 A.D. However, the cover of the issue is not related to Buck Rodgers, but depicts a scene from the story The Skylark of Space, by E.E. Smith. You can read the full plot for The Skylark of Space here, but suffice to say it deals with the discovery and implications of free energy; interstellar travel; and, yes, aliens.
So, basically, what on Earth (or in space) Tomorrowland is about is still anyone’s guess. Care to guess, anyone? Who are the men pictured with Walt Disney in those photographs? What’s in those dusty files? What’s in that brown sleeve? Is that a music record? Is there film in that Technicolor box? If so, what’s on it?? Damn you Brad Bird and Disney!
Tomorrowland is scheduled for release December 19, 2014.