Tomorrowland (film)

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Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrad Bird
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Damon Lindelof
  • Brad Bird
Story by
Starring
Music byMichael Giacchino
CinematographyClaudio Miranda
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • May 9, 2015 (2015-05-09) (Disneyland)
  • May 22, 2015 (2015-05-22) (United States)
Running time
130 minutes[1][2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$180–190 million[3][4]
Box office$209 million[4]

Tomorrowland (also known as Project T in some regions and subtitled A World Beyond in some other regions) is a 2015 American science-fiction mystery adventure film[5] directed and co-written by Brad Bird. Bird co-wrote the film's screenplay with Damon Lindelof, from an original story treatment by Bird, Lindelof and Jeff Jensen.[6][7] The film stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, and Keegan-Michael Key.[5] In the film, a disillusioned genius inventor (Clooney) and a teenage science enthusiast (Robertson) embark to an intriguing alternate dimension known as "Tomorrowland," where their actions directly affect their own world.

Walt Disney Pictures originally announced the film in June 2011 under the working title 1952, and later retitled it to Tomorrowland, after the futuristic themed land found at Disney theme parks.[7][8] In drafting their story, Bird and Lindelof took inspiration from the progressive cultural movements of the Space Age, as well as Walt Disney's optimistic philosophy of the future, notably his conceptual vision for the planned community known as EPCOT.[9][10] Principal photography began in August 2013, with scenes shot at multiple locales in five countries.[11]

Tomorrowland was released in conventional and IMAX formats on May 22, 2015,[12][13] and was the first theatrical film to be released in Dolby Vision and Dolby Cinema.[13][14] Upon its release, the film received mixed reviews from critics, earning praise for its original premise, acting, musical score, action, visuals, and themes, but criticism in regards to the screenplay's uneven writing and tone and the lack of focus on the titular city.[15][16] The film grossed $209 million worldwide against a total production and marketing cost of $330 million, losing Disney $120–140 million, though these figures do not take into account revenue from home media, merchandising and syndication.[17][18][19]

Plot[edit]

Inventor Frank Walker addresses an unseen audience about the future. When he was a young boy, Frank attended the 1964 New York World's Fair, to sell his prototype jetpack. It is rejected by judge David Nix on the basis that it doesn't work. Frank is approached by a young girl, Athena, who hands him a blue lapel pin with an orange “T” embossed on it, telling him to follow her onto Walt Disney's “It's a Small World” attraction at the Fair's Pepsi-Cola Pavilion. Frank obeys and sneaks onto the ride, where the pin is scanned by a laser, and he is transported to Tomorrowland, a futuristic cityscape, where advanced robots fix his jetpack, allowing him to fly and join the secretive world.

Frank passes the narration to the optimistic teenager Casey Newton. In the present, Casey repeatedly sabotages the planned demolition of a NASA launch site in Florida. Her father, Eddie, is a NASA engineer, but faces losing his job. Casey is eventually caught and arrested. At the police station, she finds a pin in her belongings (which appears similar to the pin young Frank was given by Athena, but colored oppositely). While touching it, the pin transports her to Tomorrowland. Her adventure is cut short when the pin's battery runs out, frustrating her.

With help from her younger brother Nate, Casey finds a Houston memorabilia store related to the pin. The owners, Hugo Gernsback and his wife Ursula, attack her when she is unable to divulge where she got the pin, insisting that Casey knows about a "little girl." Athena, who gave Casey the pin, bursts in and defeats the owners, actually Audio-Animatronics, who self-destruct, blowing apart the shop. After Casey and Athena steal a car, Athena reveals she is an animatronic, purposed to find and recruit people who fit the ideals of Tomorrowland. Athena drops Casey off outside an adult Frank’s house in Pittsfield, New York.

The reclusive, cynical Frank declines Casey’s request to take her to Tomorrowland, having been banished from it years ago. Inside Frank’s house, Casey finds a probability counter marking the end of the world. Frank warns her that the future is doomed, but she disagrees, thus lowering the counter’s probability. Animatronic assassins arrive to kill Casey, but she and Frank escape, meeting Athena in the woods outside Frank's house. Frank resents Athena for lying to him about her true nature, but reluctantly agrees to help them get to Tomorrowland.

Using a teleportation device, the trio travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Frank explains that Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison co-founded Plus Ultra, a secret society of futurists, creating Tomorrowland in another dimension, free to make scientific breakthroughs without obstruction. The trio use an antique rocket hidden beneath the Eiffel Tower – called the Spectacle – to travel to Tomorrowland.

There, they find Tomorrowland in a state of decay. David Nix, now Tomorrowland’s governor, greets them. They travel to a tachyon machine, invented by Frank, which accurately predicted the worldwide catastrophe. Casey refuses to accept the world will end, causing the future to temporarily alter. While Frank attempts to convince David to listen, he refuses and intends to have the group leave Tomorrowland.

Casey realizes the tachyon machine is telling humanity that the world will end, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. They confront David, who admits he tried to prevent the future by projecting such images to humanity as a warning. Instead, they embraced the apocalypse, refusing to act to make a better future for their world. Believing that humanity simply gave up, David has also given up and intends to allow the apocalypse to happen. Casey, Frank, and Athena attempt to use a bomb to destroy the machine, leading to a fight with David. The bomb is accidentally thrown through a portal to an uninhabited island on Earth, the explosion pinning David’s leg. Athena sees a vision of the future where Frank is shot by David, and she jumps in the way of his attack, mortally wounding herself. Making peace with Frank, Athena activates her self-destruct sequence, destroying the machine which falls on David, killing him.

In the present, Casey and Frank lead Tomorrowland, recruit Eddie and Nate, and create a new group of recruitment animatronics like Athena, whom they were addressing at the beginning of the film. Given pins, the animatronic children set out to recruit new dreamers and thinkers for Tomorrowland.

Cast[edit]

Onscreen, Key's character introduces himself as Hugo Gernsback, a tribute to the influence of the man renowned as one of the "Fathers of Science Fiction" and the namesake of the Hugo Awards.[11]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In 2010, Damon Lindelof began discussions with Walt Disney Studios about producing a modern science-fiction Disney film, with Tomorrowland as a basis.[20] The project was greenlit by Walt Disney Pictures' president of production, Sean Bailey in June 2011 with Lindelof signed on to write and produce a film with the working title of 1952.[6] Lindelof asked Jeff Jensen — who had previously published material on Lindelof's Lost television series — if he was interested in contributing to story elements. Jensen agreed and began to research the history of the Walt Disney Company, particularly Walt Disney's fascination with futurism, scientific innovation and utopia, as well as his involvement with the 1964 New York World's Fair and Disney's unrealized concept for EPCOT.[20] In May 2012, Brad Bird was hired as director.[21] Bird's story ideas and themes were influenced by the fading of cultural optimism that once defined society in the 1950s, '60s, and early '70s, stating that, "When Damon and I were first talking about the project, we were wondering why people's once-bright notions about the future gradually seemed to disappear."[22]

"When [Damon and I] were little, people had a very positive idea about the future, even though there were bad things going on in the world," Bird said. "Even the 1964 World's Fair happened during the Cold War. But there was a sense we could overcome them. And yet now we act like we're passengers on a bus with no say in where it's going, with no realization that we collectively write the future every day and can make it so much better than it otherwise would be."

— Brad Bird on the influence of society's mindset to the film's themes[22]

While keeping information about the plot secret, when asked in November 2012 whether the project would be Star Wars: Episode VII, Bird denied the rumor, but confirmed that Tomorrowland would be a science-fiction film,[23] with Lindelof adding that the film would not center on extraterrestrials.[24] Coincidentally, Bird had been tapped to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, but turned down the offer in order to work on Tomorrowland.[25] Later that month, George Clooney entered negotiations to star in the film.[26] In February 2013, Hugh Laurie joined the film.[27][28] In July 2013, Britt Robertson was cast.[29]

On January 23, 2013, nearly a week before the title change, Bird tweeted a picture related to the project. The image showed a frayed cardboard box labeled 1952, supposedly uncovered from the Walt Disney Imagineering developmental unit,[30] and containing items like archival photographs of Walt Disney, Technicolor film, envelopes, a vinyl record, space technology literature, a 1928 copy of an Amazing Stories magazine (which introduced Philip Francis Nowlan's Buck Rogers character), and an unidentified metal object.[31] On August 10, 2013, Bird and Lindelof gave a presentation at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, where they opened the "1952" box and revealed many of its contents.[32] Later that day a pavilion was unveiled on the D23 Expo show floor which presented the items for close inspection by guests. There was also an accompanying iPhone app[33] which took viewers through the exhibit much like one would experience at a museum. Michael Giacchino was hired to compose the film music.[34]

Originally, the film included overt references to Walt Disney's involvement with Plus Ultra, the fictional organization founded by Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison — including the idea that Disneyland's Tomorrowland was intended to be a cover-up for the real one developed by the group — however, the scenes and dialogue were omitted from the final cut of the film.[35] Pixar Animation Studios created an animated short film, narrated by Maurice LaMarche, that explained the backstory of Plus Ultra, which was planned to be incorporated into an excised scene where a young Frank Walker is transported beneath the "It's a Small World" attraction, and through an informative series of displays, reminiscent of Disney dark rides.[36]

Filming[edit]

The Science Museum of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia was used as a background in Tomorrowland.

Principal photography commenced in Enderby, British Columbia on August 19, 2013, and also filmed in Vancouver (including the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre) and Surrey, ending on January 15, 2014.[37][38][39] In October 2013, Kathryn Hahn was cast as a character named Ursula.[40] Also in October, it was announced that part of the filming would take place in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.[41] In November 2013, scenes depicting the Newtons' hometown were shot at New Smyrna Beach, and the Carousel of Progress attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida.[42] On February 5, 2014, additional filming took place at the It's a Small World attraction at Disneyland in California.[43][44] The film's production designers incorporated the designs of Space Mountain and Spaceship Earth as architectural features of the Tomorrowland cityscape.[45][46] Per a suggestion by Bird during production, the Walt Disney Pictures opening production logo features the Tomorrowland skyline instead of the studio's conventional fantasy castle.[47] Industrial Light & Magic created the visual effects for Tomorrowland.[48]

During post-production, a number of scenes featuring actress Judy Greer as Jenny Newton, Casey's (Robertson) late mother were cut in order to improve the film's runtime. Greer's role was reduced to minor cameo, while actor Lochlyn Munro, who portrayed Casey's live-in uncle Anthony, had his scenes removed completely.[49]

Release[edit]

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures released a teaser trailer for Tomorrowland on October 9, 2014.[50] Beginning in mid-April, a sneak peek of the film was presented at Disneyland and Epcot in the Tomorrowland and Imagination Pavilion theaters, respectively.[51] Tomorrowland held its world premiere at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California on May 9, 2015.[9] The film was released on May 22, 2015 in theaters and IMAX.[12] Tomorrowland was the first film to be released in Dolby Vision format in Dolby Cinema in North America.[13][52][53]

Despite owning the trademark to the word "Tomorrowland" in the United States since 1970, Disney released the film in the United Kingdom as Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, and as Project T in several European markets, including the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, because ID&T had previously registered the trademark in 2005, for their electronic musical festival of the same name.[54][55] In compliance to Disney's ownership of the trademark in the United States, ID&T renamed the American version of their music festival as TomorrowWorld.[56]

Home media[edit]

Tomorrowland was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on October 13, 2015.[57] The Blu-ray and digital releases include behind-the-scenes featurettes, the Plus-Ultra animated short film, and deleted scenes.[58]

Upon its first week of release on home media in the U.S., the film debuted at number 3 at the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks overall disc sales, and number 4 at the Blu-ray Disc sales chart with 47% of unit sales coming from Blu-ray.[59]

The Optimist[edit]

An alternate reality game, The Optimist, was created by Walt Disney Imagineering with Walt Disney Studios to create the world of Tomorrowland and to introduce the movie to the Disney theme park fanbase. It occurred in a fictionalized version of Disney history and players interacted with multiple characters that led them on a hunt across a variety of places with clues and puzzles leading to more. It ran from July 8, 2013 to August 11, 2013. It led players around the Anaheim area and within Disneyland itself and culminated at the D23 Expo.[60][61]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Tomorrowland grossed $93.4 million in North America and $115.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $209.2 million, against a budget of $190 million.[4]

The Hollywood Reporter estimated that the film cost $330 million to produce and market, and noted that the financial losses by Disney finished anywhere between $120 and $140 million.[19] According to them, Tomorrowland was the third original tent-pole film of 2015 to flop, following Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son.[62] Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures distribution chief, Dave Hollis, commented on the film's debut performance, saying, "Tomorrowland is an original movie and that's more of a challenge in this marketplace. We feel it's incredibly important for us as a company and as an industry to keep telling original stories."[63]

Tomorrowland opened in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, May 22, 2015 across 3,970 theaters, earning $9.7 million on its opening day, which was on par with Pitch Perfect 2 (which was in its second week).[64] The film's Friday gross included a $725,000 during its early Thursday night showings from a limited run of 701 theaters.[65] On its first three-day weekend, it earned $33 million, coming in at first place after a close race with Pitch Perfect 2 which grossed $30.8 million.[66][67] During the four-day Memorial Day weekend, it earned $42.7 million — the lowest opening for a big-budget tentpole since Disney's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which opened to $37.8 million in 2010.[68][69] Considering the film's $190 million budget ($280–330 million, including marketing costs),[62][70] many media outlets considered the film's opening in the U.S. and Canada a box office disappointment.[70][71][72]

Outside North America, it earned $32.1 million in its opening weekend from 65 countries, finishing in first place among newly released film and in third place overall behind Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road.[73] The film's top highest openings occurred in China ($14.1 million), Russia and the CIS ($4.3 million), the UK, Ireland and Malta ($3.2 million) Mexico ($2.8 million), France ($2.5 million) and Japan ($2.1 million).[73][74][75][76] In total earnings, its top three countries are China ($18.8 million), Russia and the UK ($7.6 million respectively).[77]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 50%, based on 294 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10.[78] The website's critical consensus reads, "Ambitious and visually stunning, Tomorrowland is unfortunately weighted down by uneven storytelling."[79] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 60 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[80] In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[64]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Brad Bird's Tomorrowland, a noble failure about trying to succeed, is written and directed with such open-hearted optimism that you cheer it on even as it stumbles."[81] Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying "Maybe the ultimate goal of Tomorrowland remains obscure because once you know where the story is headed, you realize it's a familiar tale. The movie can conjure up futuristic images, but the story is nothing we haven't seen before."[82] Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Though it's made with great energy and inventiveness, there's something ultimately muddy about Tomorrowland; it's as if director Brad Bird got so caught up in the sets and effects and whooshing editing that the story somehow slipped away."[83]

Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying "A well-oiled machine of visuals, and yet a wobbling rattletrap of storytelling, the sci-fi fantasy Tomorrowland is an unwieldy clunker driven into the ditch at full speed."[84] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "For a while, it doesn't matter that the plot meanders. The story seems like a jigsaw puzzle inviting us to solve it. That's the fun part. However, when the resolution is presented, it underwhelms."[85]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a negative review, saying "It's important to note that Tomorrowland is not disappointing in the usual way. It's not another glib, phoned-in piece of franchise mediocrity, but rather a work of evident passion and conviction. What it isn't is in any way convincing or enchanting."[86] Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying "The film never adds up to the sum of its parts, effectively a two-hour trailer for a movie I'd still be interested in seeing."[87] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Unlikely to be remembered in decades to come – or even in months to come, once the next teenage dystopian fantasy inserts itself into movie houses."[88]

Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Rapturous on a scene-by-scene basis and nearly incoherent when taken as a whole, the movie is idealistic and deranged, inspirational and very, very conflicted."[89] Stephen Whitty of The Star-Ledger (Newark) gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Strip Tomorrowland down to its essentials, and you get an ending out of "I'd like to teach the world to sing" and a moral which boils down to: Just be positive, OK? So OK. I'm positive Tomorrowland was a disappointment."[90]

David Edelstein of New York magazine gave the film a positive review, stating that "Tomorrowland is the most enchanting reactionary cultural diatribe ever made. It's so smart, so winsome, so utterly rejuvenating that you'll have to wait until your eyes have dried and your buzz has worn off before you can begin to argue with it."[91] Inkoo Kang of TheWrap also wrote a positive review, saying "Tomorrowland is a globe-trotting, time-traveling caper whose giddy visual whimsies and exuberant cartoon violence are undermined by a coy mystery that stretches as long as the line for "Space Mountain" on a hot summer day."[92] Brian Truitt of USA Today gave the film three out of four stars, saying "A spectacular ride for most of it, and while you're a little let down at the end, you kind of want to jump back on and do it all over again."[93]

Linda Barnard of the Toronto Star gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Brad Bird presents a gorgeously wrought, hopeful future vision in Tomorrowland, infusing the family film with enough entertaining action and retro-themed whiz bang to forgive an awkward opening and third-act weakness."[94] Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Tomorrowland wears its big movie heart on its sleeve, which is to its advantage."[95] A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club gave the film a B-, saying "Bird stages the PG mayhem with his usual grasp of dimension and space, his gift for action that's timed like physical comedy. He keeps the whole thing moving, even when it begins to feel bogged down by preachiness and sci-fi exposition."[96]

Brian Skutle of Sonic Cinema gave the film a B–, saying "What's so surprising about the film isn't how simple the story is, but how lacking of energy the whole thing is. Gone is the excitement and passion that drove The Incredibles and Ratatouille, the high-wire suspense of Ghost Protocol and the nostalgic feeling of The Iron Giant. Bird feels less like the author of this film and more like a hired hand to give Disney a big-budget tentpole based on studio notes."[97] Forrest Wickman, of Slate Magazine, said the film's "politics might be a little incoherent, or naïve. It is a kids' movie, after all."[98] Anthony Perrotta of Entropy commented that the film was inspired by the beliefs of both Walt Disney and Ayn Rand, similarly to Andrew Ryan, the villain in BioShock who constructed Rapture, a city that resembles Tomorrowland in its secrecy and intention to encourage scientific development of idealists by isolating them from the rest of the world.[99] Amy Nicholson of LA Weekly gave the film a B+, saying "Bird has made a film that every child should see. And if his $190 million dream flops, he'll be asking the same question as his movie: When did it become uncool to care?"[100]

In October 2015, Bird commented on some of the film's criticisms:

People will argue about whether we told the proper story or not. People ask, 'Why did you spend so much time in a car when you could have been in Tomorrowland?' But the movie was always intended to be a road movie and its title seemed to suggest, to some people, that the whole movie was going to take place in Tomorrowland. We had a lot of ideas for Tomorrowland but just running around Tomorrowland is not a movie. There has to be a conflict. It has to be somewhat interesting. We set out to make a fable or a fairy tale about what happened to the positive view of the future and how can we get it back and pursue that idea. For better or worse, we did.[101]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Nominees Result
Art Directors Guild Awards Best Production Design for a Fantasy Film Scott Chambliss Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Production Design Scott Chambliss Nominated
Teen Choice Awards[102] Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Tomorrowland Nominated
Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy George Clooney Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Britt Robertson Nominated
Visual Effects Society[103] Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature Barry Williams, Greg Kegel, Quentin Marmier, Thang Lee Nominated
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature Francois Lambert, Jean Lapointe, Peter Demarest, Conny Fauser Nominated
World Soundtrack Academy Soundtrack Composer of the Year Michael Giacchino Won

Soundtrack[edit]

The musical score for Tomorrowland was composed by Michael Giacchino, a recurrent collaborator of Bird's. A soundtrack album was released digitally on May 19, 2015 followed by a physical release on June 2, 2015. Songs not included on the album, but featured in the film include "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" and "It's a Small World (After All)," both written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman,[11] and "I Got Mine" by The Black Keys.

Tomorrowland (An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack)
Film score by
ReleasedMay 19, 2015 (2015-05-19) (Digital)
June 2, 2015 (2015-06-02) (Physical)
GenreSoundtrack
Length1:13:08
LabelWalt Disney
ProducerMichael Giacchino
Michael Giacchino chronology
Jupiter Ascending
(2015)
Tomorrowland
(2015)
Jurassic World
(2015)
Track listing
No.TitleLength
1."A Story About the Future"0:54
2."A Prologue"1:29
3."You've Piqued My Pin-Trist"3:27
4."Boat Wait, There's More!"1:08
5."Edge of Tomorrowland"5:17
6."Casey v Zeitgeist"1:23
7."Home Wheat Home"0:42
8."Pin-Ultimate Experience"4:53
9."A Touching Tale"1:36
10."World's Worst Shop Keepers"3:34
11."Just Get In the Car"1:42
12."Texting While Driving"0:47
13."Frank Frank"1:18
14."All House Assault"4:04
15."People Mover and Shaker"5:26
16."What An Eiffel!"6:56
17."Welcome Back, Walker!"2:31
18."Sphere and Loathing"2:21
19."As the World Burns"4:24
20."The Battle of Bridgeway"2:52
21."The Hail Athena Pass"0:59
22."Electric Dreams"4:40
23."Pins of a Feather"5:19
24."End Credits"5:26
Total length:1:13:08

References[edit]

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