Ready to step into the “Haunted Mansion?”
One of the most iconic Disney Parks attractions is about to hit the screen again, this time as a giant summer blockbuster. And the new film, directed by Justin Simien and written by Katie Dippold, looks like a lot of ghost-filled fun via the first trailer, which you can watch above.
In the new film Rosario Dawson plays a single mom who moves into the titular rustic abode with her young son, only to be confronted with 999 happy haunts. She then calls in a team of experts, including LaKeith Stanfield as a paranormal investigator, Owen Wilson as a priest, Tiffany Haddish as a psychic and Danny DeVito as a history professor, to try to rid her life of these grim-grinning ghosts, who include Jared Leto as the Hatbox Ghost and Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota (the mystic stuck in the crystal ball, in one of the attraction’s most iconic moments).
Footage from the film first premiered at last year’s D23 Expo, which also included an announcement about Jamie Lee Curtis’ casting (she came out in a “doom buggy” – the ride vehicle from the attraction). Judging by the response from the crowd, the time is right for a new “Haunted Mansion.”
Of course, there was an earlier movie – 2003’s “The Haunted Mansion,” which starred Eddie Murphy and featured creatures and make-up effects from the brilliant Rick Baker. (It was directed by original “Lion King” filmmaker Rob Minkoff.) But that felt compromised in all sorts of ways, and derailed what could have been another potential franchise the same year that the big-screen “Pirates of the Caribbean” launched.
In 2010 it was announced that Guillermo del Toro would write and direct a new version of “The Haunted Mansion,” with Ryan Gosling later cast as the lead. This version never materialized. A primetime special based around the attraction, from animator Shannon Tindle, was also developed but ultimately never produced. But hey, we did get that “Muppet Haunted Mansion” Disney+ special a couple of years ago. That was something!
The attraction, which was first built at Disneyland, followed a similarly bumpy trajectory. It was initially announced in 1961, with a proposed 1963 opening date. But then Walt Disney got involved with the 1964/65 World’s Fair in Queens and then passed away in 1967. Original concepts like a walk-through “Museum of the Weird” were abandoned in favor of a more full-bodied attraction, combining both spooky and funny elements that reflected the Imagineers (and, for this attraction, Illusioneers) who worked on the project. It finally opened in 1969 and was almost instantly viewed as a classic. These days, after multiple additions and renovations throughout the years, it remains one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland and has been built at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris (where it has a cool, old west vibe that connects to their version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad next door) and Hong Kong Disneyland (as Mystic Manor).
“Haunted Mansion” opens in theaters on July 28, 2023. The film’s producers are Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, with Nick Reynolds and Tom Peitzman serving as executive producers.