D23: Mysteries of 'Tomorrowland,' and Unexpected Humor in 'Saving Mr. Banks'

The final two films that were presented during the live-action presentation were very close to the Disney brand.

 
Tomorrowland was the first film up. A table was wheeled out onstage with "a dusty, old box," the contents of which were presented by director/writer Brad Bird and cowriter/producer Damon Lindelof.
 
-The first item presented was an old photograph of Walt Disney with Amelia Earhart, dated two years after Earhart disappeared. The duo revealed that the picture was indeed doctored - a combination of two pictures. Disney's pic was lifted off a pic of him with an "unknown man" and Earhart was photographed with Cary Grant. Disney's image had been imposed over Grant's. Good to know that Imagineers had Photoshop back in the old days.
 
- The next item presented was an August 1928 copy of sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories. With it was a piece of cardboard with random slits in it. On the cardboard is an inscription reading "AS828 422," which instructs the user to go to page 422 of the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories. When placed over that page, the slits reveal a series of words from a story that warn about the future.
 
- Next, Bird unfolded a large, dried-up sheet of parchment paper. On the paper are building plans for the Small World ride at the 1964 New York World's Fair. At the top, there's an insignia with a mathematical equation that equals the light frequency for basic UV light. When the lights in the arena were turned off and Bird shined a UV flashlight on the paper, a faint outline of another building plan was seen.
 
- The final mystery was a scratched-up disc labeled "A History of Tomorrow" dated November 1963. The animation and sound are very scratch, the images jump around, but essentially, the clip warns of the future and man's continued pursuit of creation and innovation.
 
The entire presentation was like watching two young boys during playtime, making up fantastical stories for the audience. An exhibit was unveiled on the exhibition floor later that afternoon where participants could check out the contents of the box and other mysterious items from the movie.
 
The final presentation revolved around Saving Mr. Banks. While Tom Hanks didn't appear onstage, we did get an extensive look at the film, which opens in theaters December 20.
 
 
The film centers on the 20-year pursuit of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (played with Oscar-worthy perfection by Emma Thompson) by Walt Disney, played by Hanks, who could easily get a nomination himself for the movie.
 
- The first clip screened focused on Travers' first day on the Disney lot. She's greeted by screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and composers Robert and Richard Sherman (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman, respectively). Travers is very curt with the three men as they escort her to meet Mr. Disney. While they're very carefree and accommodating, she exudes a no-nonsense attitude with the men.
 
- Once inside Disney's office, she is walked back to his office and Disney tells her a story about how he heard his daughters giggling while reading Mary Poppins. He tells her that he made a promise to his daughters and that is something that he cannot break. He tells her that he wants to make the movie, not only because his kids will like it, but because all kids would. Travers resists saying she doesn't want to see her creation "turned into another one of your silly cartoons." Disney's tone shifts from laid-back to serious. He calmly sits next to her, holds her hands and says, "I love Mary Poppins."
 
- Its a wonderful sequence that gives us a really good look at the chemistry between Hanks and Thompson, and also shows just how polar opposites they are.
 
 
- The second clip begins with Travers' limousine arriving at the front gates of Disneyland. Paul Giamatti plays her limo driver and also serves as comic relief. 
 
- The gates open and as Giamatti tries to contain his excitement, he pulls up in front of Disney. He opens the door and Disney helps Travers out of the car. They walk through Disneyland and come to Walt's favorite ride, a merry-go-round. He tells Travers to get on the horse, but naturally, she refuses. After several attempts, Disney says in a flat commanding voice, "Get on the horse, Pamela."
 
- After getting on the ride, she tells him that she's not going to give him the movie rights, to which Disney responds that he didn't ask her to get on the ride to talk about Mary Poppins. Instead, he had a bet with a few guys that said he couldn't get her to ride the merry-go-round. Again, some unexpected humor and nice back-and-forth dialogue between Hanks and Thompson.
 
- Novak and Schwartzman then appeared onstage to talk about their research and working with the real Richard Sherman. "He winks a lot," Schwartzman noted.
 
- A third and final clip was then shown. The clip finds Travers going over her book with Whitford, Novak ad Schwartzman. After some disagreements about language, Whitford stands as Novak and Schwartzman head over to the piano. Whitford starts to read from a script and, when finished, cues the musical duo to start playing. They start singing "Let's Go Fly a Kite," much to Travers' horror. She stops them when they make up the word "respon-stability" after which Schwartzman shuffles the music sheet for "Supercalafragasticexpialadocious" under his pile of paper.
 
The live-action presentation concluded with Schwartzman seated at a piano and Novak joining him to sing "Let's Go Fly a Kite." Mid-sing, they were joined by Richard Sherman and yes, he did wink at the crowd.
 
Maleficent and Cinderella are just a couple of fairy tales Disney is bringing to live action. Read the D23 details.
 

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Next Article by Derrick Deane

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