Disney is rebooting the Haunted Mansion with a new live-action version, and all indications are that it’s a desperately needed project. Disney’s new Haunted Mansion supposedly won’t be a remake of the 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy. The film is also different from Disney’s upcoming Muppets Haunted Mansion, which will hit Disney+ in October. Instead, the film will be a new take on the ride, which is found at various Disney parks worldwide. The film will reportedly star Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, and Tiffany Haddish. Justin Simien (Dear White People) will direct the project, and the script is coming from Katie Dippold (Ghostbusters).
Haunted Mansion is Disney’s latest attempt to capitalize on its theme parks. In addition to the project, Disney recently released the wildly successful Jungle Cruise. Also based on a Disney ride, Jungle Cruise brought Emily Blunt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson together on a magical adventure down the Amazon River. In addition to a huge box office take for Jungle Cruise, which earned around $200 million worldwide amid a global pandemic, the film also brought revenue from a Premier Access release on Disney+. Due to the film’s success, a sequel to the project is already in the works at Disney. In addition to the box office revenue, the film also serves to reinvigorate Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride, bringing new attention to the old attraction.
A new Haunted Mansion movie is a brilliant move by Disney. When it comes to horror franchises, the studio has a clear gap in content. Adding horror could bring new fans to Disney’s streaming platform while also giving current Disney+ subscribers and fans more options. Furthermore, the move could provide a unique merchandising opportunity for Disney, bringing further attention to the Haunted Mansion ride and allowing Disney to expand its current line of toys and products. Additionally, along with Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney has the chance to turn its existing IP into a whole new blockbuster franchise.
Disney Needs A Strong Horror Franchise
Horror films are becoming more popular than ever. Streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, have made horror films more accessible than they’ve ever been, allowing even niche films to gain an audience. Although many non-horror films struggled at the box office amid the pandemic, scary movies were relatively successful. For example, Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta’s candy man outperformed its pre-release tracking of $15 million by earning more than $22 million in its box office debut. Meanwhile, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It earned more than $200 million, and A Quiet Place Part II earned around $300 million worldwide. The box office numbers show horror films continue to provide worthwhile theatrical experiences, while the genre is also a mainstay of stay-at-home streamers.
When it comes to horror films, Disney is lacking. Nowadays, Disney seems to focus on turning its classic animated films into live-action remakes or capitalizing on the ever-increasing popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But with the market becoming saturated with Marvel and live-action remakes simply retreading the same story beats, Disney’s new projects often bring significant criticism. On the other hand, horror’s popularity provides Disney the opportunity to get into a new genre, though the studio has repeatedly failed whenever it’s tried scares in the past. Being a family-friendly studio, Disney often misses when it comes to the tone and story for horror films. For example, both fans and critics loathed Disney’s 2003 version of the Haunted Mansion. The movie currently sits at only 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Even Disney’s successful spooky films are often overlooked, with Hocus Pocus initially being a box office flop before later finding an audience as a cult classic. Horror is essentially an untapped area for Disney, providing a whole new revenue stream if handled correctly.
Why Haunted Mansion Could Be Great For Merchandise
A Haunted Mansion reboot film should take notes from Disney’s Jungle Cruise. The new movie has allowed Disney to bring additional attention to an old ride and potentially create a new franchise. Besides scoring at the box office, Jungle Cruise celebrated its classic theme park inspiration, even showcasing some of the ride’s best jokes as The Rock led a hilarious jungle cruise down the Amazon near the film’s beginning. In addition to a new movie, Jungle Cruise also added an update to Disney’s original ride. The movie served as a chance for Disney to change problematic issues with the old ride. Because of the film, the original ride’s negative stereotypes, such as Trader Sam, were given a new backstory and updated for the better. Though Disney recently gave its Haunted Mansion ride an update, a new film allows the company to make further additions or bring more awareness to its previous changes.
The new film also provides a merchandising opportunity. Merchandise is the not-so-secret way films continue to capitalize on IP long after the release date. Star Wars, a franchise owned by Disney, is a prime example. In addition to bringing in billions at the box office, the franchise has earned even more on merchandise and licensing options. Likewise, Marvel movies work closely with toy and licensing companies, regularly pumping out new products and collectibles. With merchandise being such a big part of filmmaking, a new Haunted Mansion reboot gives Disney the chance to capitalize on the trend.
Haunted Mansion Could Be The Next POTC
Pirates of the Caribbean is perhaps Disney’s most successful ride-turned-movie. Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was released the same year as Eddie Murphy’s Haunted Mansion film; however, the results couldn’t be more different. Though it was also based on a Disney ride, Pirates was more than a marketing gimmick. The film cared about the story, giving moviegoers a swashbuckling adventure and characters they instantly loved. It was a runaway hit, earning more than $650 million worldwide. The film’s success spawned numerous sequels, giving Disney a franchise worth more than $4 billion. The franchise is even strong enough to move on from star Johnny Depp amid his ongoing legal issues. A new Pirates film starring Margot Robbie is supposedly on the way.
Disney has the chance to make Haunted Mansion the next Pirates of the Caribbean. Like Pirates, the Haunted Mansion reboot brings in several beloved actors, such as Haddish, Stanfield, and Wilson, who’s also coming off of Disney’s incredibly popular Marvel series Loki. Disney already replicated the Pirates formula with the success of Jungle Cruise, and a new Haunted Mansion reboot could allow it to do the same. With big stars leading the way, a new Haunted Mansion could add a strong horror franchise to Disney’s portfolio, bringing new attention to its theme park ride and giving fans a story they’ll enjoy.
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