Disney has a history of making films based off their rides and attractions. “Pirates of the Caribbean” created a whole lucrative franchise. “Haunted Mansion” (2023) director Justin Simien wants to bring another classic Disneyland attraction to the silver screen with “Captain EO.” The 3D sci-fi musical attraction starring Michael Jackson was featured at Disneyland and Walt Disney World from the mid 80s to late 90s. The short film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and written by George Lucas, Rusty Lemorande, and Coppola.
The short follows Captain EO (Jackson) and his crew on their mission to save a planet from The Supreme Leader (Anjelica Huston in AMAZING makeup). The attraction was first retired in the late 90s. It made a comeback as “Captain EO Tribute” in the early to mid 2010s. The ride has since been retired again, but the nostalgia remains.
A lot of the appeal of these movies based on the attractions are the hidden Easter eggs. These Easter eggs are fun callbacks to the rides, often obscure references for fans. While the short film may no longer be featured in the Disney parks, Simien could focus on the nostalgia. Another possibility could be flushing out the world building and story laid by Lucas and Coppola.
Many directors take the rides as a starting point and build off that foundation, creating enrapturing stories. Simien’s work on “Haunted Mansion” shows his capability to take what fans love most about the ride, and make a wonderful story.
Having been lucky enough to see the attraction in the mid-2010s, I’m very interested in the potential this project could have. It would be very interesting to see how this project would be done without Jackson.