J.J. Abrams is directing Star Wars: Episode VII, meaning we can anticipate quite the heavily-guarded and secretive build-up to the film’s release – even more than the campaign for Abrams’ Super 8 – similar to the (enigmatic) marketing for Star Trek Into Darkness. Meanwhile, filmmaker Brad Bird and screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen are developing another hush-hush sci-fi project for Disney, previously known as 1952.

There was a time when speculation ran rampant about 1952 being Episode VII in disguise; though, the official hiring of Abrams and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Oblivion) as screenwriter put those rumors to rest. However, discussions about the plot of 1952 are bound to be re-ignited today, with Disney’s announcement of the project’s new title: Tomorrowland.

Bird and Lindelof released photos through their respective Twitter accounts last week, showing both the exterior and interior of a dilapidated box labeled (what else?) “1952.” The content within ranged from vintage photographs of Walt Disney himself – to a book titled “Model Research: The National Advisory For Aeronautics 1918-1958″ – and an “Amazing Stories” comic book from 1928, marking the first appearance of iconic printed page hero Buck Rogers.

Those images provided reason to wonder about circulating rumors, which peg the project as a harkening back to old-school alien/adventure cinema – in particular, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind – similar to how Super 8 is Abrams’ love letter to Spielberg’s Amblin classics like E.T. Indeed, we have been hearing that George Clooney is playing a man who crosses paths with beings not of this Earth, as has been rumored; however, could that character, in fact, be none other than… Walt Disney?

UPDATE: We can scratch the extraterrestrials idea off the list, thanks to the following Tweet from Lindelof:

We won’t tell you what it’s about (yet), but we will tell you what it’s NOT about. And that would be ALIENS. #Tomorrowland

Disney bought property near Anaheim to build Disneyland upon in 1953, so a faux-historical tale that reveals ‘the secret truth’ about his experiences the year before (specifically, what inspired his vision of Tomorrowland) sounds like a clever means to turn the eponymous park attraction into a cinematic experience. Indeed, the Mouse House is attempting to turn just about every one of its rides into a film with multi-platform appeal – be it Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or the entire Magic Kingdom – but Bird, Lindelof and Jensen’s project sounds the most intriguing of the bunch so far (assuming my guesses are, at least, heading in the right direction).

As for the idea of Clooney playing Disney (again, that’s not confirmed): Tom Hanks is playing the artist in this December’s Saving Mr. Banks, so it stands to reason the Mouse House would also be keen on a fantastical portrayal of his secret history (though, maybe not quite on a level with, say, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). Clooney also seems a good choice to portray Disney as a confident and resourceful innovator – maybe even to a fault – which is the sort of protagonist you’d expect in a film that honors Close Encounters.

Tomorrowland opens in theaters on December 19th, 2014. Feel free to share your own theories about the film in the comments section.

Source: Walt Disney Pictures