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Del Toro dishes on new ‘Haunted Mansion’ movie status to MTV, talks future ride influence

in Disney, Disneyland, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Magic Kingdom, Movies, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

For the first time since the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con announcement, director Guillermo del Toro speaks out in detail on the status of the new “Haunted Mansion” movie he is developing for Disney, based on the classic dark ride. In an interview with MTV, del Toro explains that not only is the new film’s story being worked on, but artwork has been created and there are even talks of integrating the movie’s story back into the ride in the future.

Guillermo del Toro tells MTV:

We’re on the second draft of the screenplay. We have a huge show and tell series of boards. We have about 40 pieces of art, maquettes. We have fluid contact with Imagineering at Disney. We are making sure that we are not only faithful to the Mansion and the ride but that we have the ride in the future reflect into the movie and the movie into the ride. It’s been a very elaborate, very slow process.

We went through a lot of the original art for the design of the Mansion. We went to the Disney Archives and went through the — I really would have liked to done a little bit of swindling but […] I was being watched. But we went through the Marc Davis sketches and color work which I’m a huge fan of. Then we explored the Mansion by foot at 5am in the morning. We took two hours, went behind the scenes. I went insane. It’s one of the happiest days of my life.

Unlike the 2003 “Haunted Mansion” movie starring Eddie Murphy, del Toro’s “Haunted Mansion” will not be a comedy, but rather retain the spooky feel of the Disney attraction. Del Toro is a self-proclaimed, long-time fan of the ride and is likely one of the few Hollywood directors who can do the job right. It was previously revealed that the infamous Hatbox Ghost character from The Haunted Mansion would be a main role in the new film and with fans of the ride often hoping for that character’s return to the ride, this would offer a perfect opportunity for Imagineering to make it happen.

Also brought up in the interview was director Jon Favreau’s current work on a “Magic Kingdom” movie for Disney and how closely del Toro is working with Favreau to connect the two films. Del Toro said, “I told Jon he could use some of the stuff and I can use some of his stuff and make it a cohesive universe. That would be fantastic.”

Favreau and Del Toro recently made similar remarks in a panel discussion at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. No release dates for either film have been set. But with a 2.5-hour presentation from the Walt Disney Studios coming up at the 2011 D23 Expo on Saturday and progress made on both projects, it’s not impossible to think fans in attendance at the event might get a further update about either.


  1. Mike B

    I’d welcome a better adaptation of the ride into a movie, but weaving the film story back into the ride isn’t necessary or wise. The Haunted Mansion works great as a series of disconnected macabre sight gags, and doesn’t need a unifying story.

    Another problem is del Toro’s proposal that his version “will not be a comedy, but rather retain the spooky feel of the Disney attraction.” The Haunted Mansion attraction is indeed a comedy, a winking black comedy from beginning to end. del Toro may be able to create a serious spooky movie from the attraction elements, but the resulting film story will be hard to incorporate back into the attraction without dousing its humor.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I don’t believe he will make the film completely without comedy. But he does want to distance what he is working on from what was made in 2003. That movie was 99% comedy and 1% spooky. This one likely will balance those elements in a way that mirrors the attraction much more closely. (Or at least, I hope so…)

    2. Michelle

      there is already a main story in the haunted mansion ride and its not a series of random images. I suggest you read a bit more about the history of the ride and the different story lines.

    3. Rose

      If you look up the origional haunted mansion ride, it WAS scary. After the eddie murphy version (which I still love) They added in all the comedy. So no, he’s following the REAL haunted mansion.

      “The Haunted Mansion works great as a series of disconnected macabre sight gags, and doesn’t need a unifying story.”

      When the ride was first made, the workers had a little book with all the ghosts back stories in it, and that’s what he’s using. So no, they weren’t disconnected sight gags.

      Do I still want some humor? yes, because even the first version of HM had humor, but it still wasn’t exactly supposed to be a ride for kids. It was built to be for teens and adults. And I’m happy he’s going back to that.

  2. Sam E

    If we all remember how Disney updated the ride with a new story line well did it ever occur to you that that could be what it’s about and that the ” Magic Kingdom” movie could actually finally a Kingdom Keepers movie?!

  3. Michelle

    @mike b there is already a main story in the haunted mansion ride and its not a series of random images. I suggest you read a bit more about the history of the ride and the different story lines.

  4. Grinning Ghost

    @Michelle: Mike is right. There is *no* story beyond being a retirement home for 999 Happy Haunts. The ONLY bit of story that was recently added is Constance and her headless husbands. While there are ties to the portrait in the Stretch Room, Constance & Co. is mostly contained in the attic, with no bearing on the rest of the attraction.

    It is merely a series of vignettes and sight gags, loosely tied together. First half: spirits “having trouble getting through”; Madame Leota helps them come through from regions beyond; Second half: Happy Haunts materialize, and begin to socialize.

    Most of the vignettes and sight gags are self-contained stories, bearing little or no relationship to the others. Any additional storylines are “just your imagination” – which is just how it was designed. It’s up to the guests to make up their own stories if they choose. Any additional material that is found out “there” on the internet is fan fiction, and not actual stories presented in the attraction itself.

  5. Jones

    Sure, great, and while we´re at it, why not add Jack Sparrow as well…

    1. Doomdreamer

      There is a big difference between Jack Sparrow and the Hatbox Ghost. Jack never existed before the movies, so he is a new addition. The Hatbox Ghost was there in the beginning, and taken out of the ride because they couldn’t get the effect to work right. The Imagineers have always wanted to put him back in, and he has always had somewhat of a presence in the Mansion; Be it in pictures, or as a pop-up ghost, or just a ghastly rumor of a ghost so frightening he gave an old man a heart-attack. His return is long overdue.

      1. Jones

        I have no problem with the Hatbox Ghost, if that´s all they add, fine with me – but somehow all talk of how a movie may or may not influence the original attraction it´s based on triggers a red alert in my head…

        1. Rose

          “but somehow all talk of how a movie may or may not influence the original attraction it´s based on triggers a red alert in my head…”

          But that’s what they did with the eddie murphy version. They put in so much junk that wasn’t meant to be there. And technically it wasn’t even master gracie hanging from the cieling in the elevator, but the ghost host.
          If the change the ride to make it scarier, sweet! It wasn’t a kid ride in the begining, and it’ll be nice to see it go back to its old ways.

  6. Yensidaj

    I am salivating to hear (and hopefully see) more about both features, the MK feature more so than the HM movie.

  7. Jet

    I’m quite excited for the new movie, but not so much about this rumor of the movie being tied back into the ride… I think the majority of the fans of the ride would be incredibly upset to see the two conjoin, myself included.

  8. paul

    i think the haunted mansion reboot is going to be a success in the box office.knowing he is a huge fan of the mansion.this movie is going to be scary and fun.hope its in 3d.he is good at doing scary and weird movies.

  9. Todd

    I think it is funny how passionate everyone is about this topic. I wish the politician’s in Washington were as passionate about our country! I am looking forward to this new movie and I hope it is 80% scary and 20% comedy. The creepiness of the Haunted Mansion is the draw, the gags and dark humor are what makes it family friendly. I vote for a more adult PG-13 type of movie with some real scares, mayhem and thrills. You know, hot and cold running chills.;-)

    1. Mike

      He says it will be PG-13.
      I think they should make it a Touchstone Pictures release.
      For those who don’t know, Touchstone is Disney without the kiddie movie stigma.

      1. Seth

        No touchstone !

    2. Tink Bell

      The Fantasyland that is our Congress is NO Magic Kingdom!!!!

  10. Seth

    This movie will be good, I have fath in Guillermo, I’m pumped to see what the hat box ghost will look like & to see what the style of the film!

  11. Tink Bell

    Okay, make it spooky, but not TOO spooky. No bloodletting please. I’d rather it had the comedy elements that are already in the Haunted Mansion. The attraction has always had a storyline, I actually like the Eddie Murphy movie, and I remember much of the story elements from the ride. Keep it Disney, please. The Hatbox Ghost seems like a natural. Of course, Madame Leota and Little Leota. Too bad we’ve lost Thurl Ravenscroft (he’s one of the singing busts) *sigh* I wish I was at the Park right now…………………

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