The Haunted Mansion (film)

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This article is about the 2003 film. For the 1998 Hong Kong horror film, see Haunted Mansion (1998 film).
The Haunted Mansion
Haunted mansion ver3.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Minkoff
Produced by Andrew Gunn
Don Hahn
Written by David Berenbaum
Based on The Haunted Mansion (attraction at Disney Parks)
Starring Eddie Murphy
Terence Stamp
Nathaniel Parker
Marsha Thomason
Jennifer Tilly
Music by Mark Mancina
Cinematography Remi Adefarasin
Edited by Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates November 26, 2003 (2003-11-26)
Running time 88 minutes
Language English
Budget $90 million[1]
Box office $182,436,254[1]

The Haunted Mansion is a 2003 American family horror comedy film based on the attraction of the same name at Disney theme parks. The film was directed by Rob Minkoff, written by David Berenbaum and stars Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Nathaniel Parker, Marsha Thomason, and Jennifer Tilly. It was released on November 26, 2003 and is Disney's fourth film based on an attraction at one of its theme parks, following Tower of Terror (1997), The Country Bears (2002) and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) (the latter being the first installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series).

Synopsis[edit]

Jim Evers is a workaholic real estate agent whose continuous pursuit for new deals leaves very little time with his family. He misses his wedding anniversary with his wife Sara, but to make amends, suggesting going on vacation to a nearby lake. Beforehand, Sara is contacted by the occupants of Gracey Manor, located in the Louisiana bayou. Eager to make a deal, Jim drags Sara and his children Megan and Michael to the mansion. They meet its owner Edward Gracey, his stern butler Ramsley, and other staff members Emma and Ezra. When a storm floods the nearby river, Gracey allows the Evers to stay the night, though everyone save Jim is unhappy with the idea. Ramsley takes Jim down to the library to have a talk with Gracey, but while he waits, Jim gets trapped in a secret passage.

Megan and Michael encounter a spectral orb and follow it up to the attic, where they find a portrait of a woman resembling Sara. Sara herself talks with Gracey in the library, who explains his grandfather hanged himself after his lover Elizabeth Henshaw poisoned herself despite their plans to wed. Jim meets Madame Leota, a gypsy woman’s ghost whose head is encased in a crystal ball, but she scares him away. Jim runs into his children, Emma and Ezra, and returns to Madame Leota for answers about Elizabeth’s likeness to Sara. It is revealed everyone in the mansion are ghosts, cursed a century ago by Gracey and Elizabeth’s suicides and can only go to the afterlife when they are reunited, and Gracey believes Sara is his lover back from the dead. Madame Leota sends the Evers off to the mansion’s expansive cemetery to find a key which will reveal the truth behind Elizabeth’s unusual death. Jim and Megan venture into a crypt where they find the key, but disturb its undead residents. They escape with help from Michael. Madame Leota then instructs them to find a trunk in the attic, Jim unlocking it to find a letter written by Elizabeth to Gracey, revealing she wanted to marry, revealing she was murdered. Ramsley suddenly appears, revealing he poisoned Elizabeth to prevent Gracey from abandoning his heritage. To hide the truth, he traps the children in a trunk and throws Jim out of the house, enchanting the house so Jim cannot break in.

Gracey and Sara enter the ballroom. He asks Sarah if she can recognize him which confuses her. Desperate, he insists to Sara that she is his beloved Elizabeth from long ago. The room fills with ballroom dancing ghosts of the past which causes Sara to flee from the room. As she runs up the stairs Gracey reveals his true ghost self to Sara begging her to understand and that she really is Elizabeth and that they can finally be together. She shouts that she is not Elizabeth and slams the door in his face. Gracey begins to believe that Sarah can't Elizabeth because she doesn't remember him. But Ramsley insists that it is her and that in time she will remember. Ramsley tells Sara to get ready for her wedding to Gracey. Sarah refuses but Ramsley blackmails her into marrying Gracey in return for her children’s safety. Encouraged by Madame Leota, Jim drives his car through the mansion’s conservatory, rescues his children, and stops Sara and Gracey’s wedding ceremony where he gives Elizabeth’s real letter to Gracey. Gracey confronts Ramsley, who rages at his master’s apparent selfishness for loving Elizabeth, and summons wraiths to kill the group. However, a fiery dragon emerges from the ballroom fireplace and drags Ramsley down to hell for eternal damnation for his crimes. Sara suddenly collapses, having been poisoned by Ramsley during the wedding, only for the spectral orb encountered by the children to appear and possess Sara, revealed to be Elizabeth’s ghost. Elizabeth and Gracey reunite, and Sara is revived. With the curse lifted, Gracey gives the Evers the mansion’s deed and departs to the afterlife with Elizabeth, Emma, Ezra, and the other ghosts.

The Evers head off on a proper vacation, accompanied by Madame Leota, and four singing busts strapped to the back of their car. In a post-credits scene, Madame Leota bids farewell to the audience, inviting them to join the dead using dialogue from the Disneyland attraction.

Cast[edit]

In credits order

  • Eddie Murphy as Jim Evers, a workaholic real estate agent who is often late for family gatherings, but tries his best to make up for it.
  • Terence Stamp as Ramsley, the mysterious butler of Gracey Manor who serves as a fatherly figure to Master Gracey.
  • Nathaniel Parker as Master Edward Gracey, the owner of Gracey Manor. He is a polite and friendly man, who longs for his lost love Elizabeth to return to him after her apparent suicide.
  • Marsha Thomason as Sara Evers, Jim's supporting wife.
    • Marsha Thomason also portrays Elizabeth Henshaw, Master Gracey's long-lost lover.
  • Jennifer Tilly as Madame Leota, a gypsy woman whose spirit is encased in a crystal ball as a head shrouded by green mist. She speaks in cryptic riddles.
  • Wallace Shawn as Ezra, a bumbling footman who worries about getting into trouble.
  • Dina Waters as Emma, a nervous but helpful maid who seems terrified of Ramsley.
  • Marc John Jefferies as Michael Evers, Jim and Sara's 10-year-old son who is very arachnophobic.
  • Aree Davis as Megan Evers, Jim and Sara's 13-year-old daughter who is impatient and stroppy.

Production/Trivia[edit]

The mansion scenes were filmed at Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California. The main building was constructed over a period of weeks while the cupola and chimneys on the top of the mansion were computer generated. The paperboy in the opening scene is the nephew of the director, Rob Minkoff. A Hidden Mickey is briefly seen when Ramsley pours the poison in the goblet of wine during the wedding. Upon leaving the mansion via ghost carriage to find the mausoleum, Ezra exclaims "there's always my way," a pivotal line of dialogue from the hanging scene in the Disney theme park ride.

The costume and special effects designers wanted the ghost characters to become "more dead" the farther they were from the mansion. Note that while Ezra and Emma look human in the house, their leaving it causes them to become blue and transparent. The zombies in the mausoleum are the "deadest," as they are farthest away.

This was the first movie to air on Disney Channel to contain any profanity besides "hell" or "damn." It also contained the phrase "Big ass termites!", uttered by Murphy.

The scene where Edward hangs himself, taken specifically from the "room-stretching" portion of the Disney theme park ride, is usually cut from the broadcasts.[citation needed]

The design of the mansion is loosely based on Disneyland's version of The Haunted Mansion while the iron/glass conservatory was based on Walt Disney World's version of the ride.

In the opening scene of the film, Nathaniel Parker had great difficulty trying to carry Elizabeth up the staircase, which is shown on the expressions of his face. This was due to her slippery silk dress.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

According to Box Office Mojo, The Haunted Mansion grossed $24,278,410 on its opening weekend with an average of $7,776 per theatre in the United States. With the domestic gross at $75,847,266, the film gained more than a quarter of the earnings of its theme-ride predecessor Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The film achieved better in foreign markets, with an overseas total of $106,443,000.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The Haunted Mansion received very negative reviews from critics. It currently holds a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 139 reviews, with the general consensus that it was "Neither scary nor funny" and that it was "as lifeless as the ghosts in the movie".[2]

Home media [edit]

The DVD release came with several special features, including a behind-the-scenes look at the film's production, describing how the zombies were created, and how certain visual effects were performed or produced; a scene anatomy of the graveyard; a virtual interactive ride of the film's Haunted Mansion with Emma and Ezra as hosts; a single deleted scene; an outtake reel; and a minute and a half long video about the attractions.

Reboot[edit]

It was announced on July 22, 2010, at San Diego Comic-Con International that a new film based on Disney's The Haunted Mansion was in development with Guillermo del Toro writing and producing. Del Toro saw the 2003 film with his daughters; when asked about his involvement in the new project, he said, "the thing I want to do is remake it."[3] Elaborating, he commented, "The movie I see in my head of 'Haunted Mansion' is not, I believe, what everyone is imagining it to be. It's not just a regular world with a haunted mansion plopped in the middle. I really am thinking of a movie that has a heightened reality."[4] Del Toro said that Hatbox Ghost would be the main haunting[4] and added, "We are not making it a comedy. We are making it scary and fun at the same time, but the scary will be scary." It is to be filmed in live-action 3D.[5] To help make a respectful adaptation, del Toro has contacted Walt Disney World Imagineer Jason Surrell, author of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies, to act as a possible consultant for the film.[6] Del Toro has also announced he is aiming for a PG-13 rating for The Haunted Mansion.[7] On August 7, 2012, Del Toro mentioned in an interview with Collider that he had submitted his final draft to Disney, and that "they like the screenplay" because "their reaction to the draft was good".[8] Del Toro revealed that he will co-write the film, but won't direct it.[9]

In July 2014, it was announced that a separate film project, a cartoon special based on the attraction and animated by Gris Grimly, was being developed in honor of the 45th anniversary. It is to be aired on the Disney Channel and Disney XD.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]