Damon Lindelof Talks TOMORROWLAND; Story Steeped in Disney History but “None of the Movie Takes Place in a Disneyland Park”

     May 20, 2013


Damon Lindelof is on the interview circuit, mostly explaining what he did with Star Trek Into DarknessLost ended in 2006, and Lindelof is waiting to hear if HBO will pick up his Rapture series The Leftovers, which would throw him back into the grind of producing a television show.  In the transition years, Lindelof has tackled a variety of sci-fi tentpoles: Star Trek, Cowboys & Aliens, Prometheus.  The next is Tomorrowland, an intriguing project at Disney that Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) will direct.  George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Raffey Cassidy are on board to star.

Rumored plot details leaked in March.  Lindelof didn’t elaborate much on what was out there other than to say some of the public information is “completely and totally erroneous.”  But he did discuss the inspiration behind the project, how he wants to give Tomorrowland a story (the Pirates of the Caribbean treatment), and his fascination with Disney history.  Read what he had to say after the jump.

Lindelof spoke at length to Grantland.  After the controversial ending of Lost, the Prometheus debate, and the Star Trek Into Darkness mystery box, Lindelof embraces his role as a lightning rod, so it’s worth a read.  Below are the Tomorrowland excerpts.

On what he wants to do for Tomorrowland:


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.

On how his Tomorrowland is part Neil deGrasse Tyson, part Dan Brown:

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.

On what this box (pictured right) is all about, and how there are many more like it in the Disney archives:


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.

On keeping secrets in a spoiler culture:

But I think that, you know, 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 I’m just going to try to — in a landscape that is constantly trying to give people too much, somebody has to be representing ‘not enough.’

Tomorrowland is scheduled for release December 19, 2014.


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