Now that Disney has the combined cinematic might of Star Wars (and other Lucasfilm properties), the vast majority of the Marvel catalog, and possibly (if rumors are to be believed) Hasbro at its disposal, one might think the company is no longer in need of seeking out ways to translate theme park rides such as Big Thunder Mountain into properties for television and film.
It turns out that thinking would be dead wrong, as it was recently announced the company plans to turn the Western-inspired train ride into an ABC television series with the help of Fast & Furious writer and executive producer Chris Morgan and actor-turned-writer Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift). Naturally, at this stage of development, Disney isn’t going into much detail about what the proposed “dramatic take” on the theme park ride might entail, so there’s plenty of room for speculation amongst those who’ve recently become familiar with the ride because the line for Space Mountain was too long.
It’s understandable that the Mouse House would want to convert more rides into what is ostensibly a live-action commercial for its theme parks, and considering Disney struck gold when it transformed the unassuming Pirates of the Caribbean into a billion dollar film franchise starring Johnny Depp, it makes sense for them to try and capture lighting in a bottle once more. But unlike Pirates and other adaptations like The Haunted Mansion – or the planned adventure film based on the Matterhorn ride – Big Thunder Mountain is mostly devoid of any catchy element (such as pirates, ghosts or yetis) that might easily hook viewers. So unless the idea is to have the mining town of Tumbleweed get struck by earthquakes, flash floods or (in the case of Tokyo Disneyland) tsunamis on a weekly basis, Fuchs will likely have free rein in coming up with the series’ basic plot and themes.
However Fuchs decides to spin Big Thunder Mountain, he’ll likely have some help from Morgan, who is a far more seasoned screenwriter. In addition to his work on the last three entries in the Fast & Furious franchise, Morgan wrote the adaptation for Mark Millar’s comic Wanted and recently penned the screenplay for 47 Ronin, the beleaguered samurai action-drama starring Keanu Reeves. Apparently, Morgan is one to strike while the proverbial iron is hot, since he is also actively developing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the barbaric role of Conan in the upcoming sword-swinging sequel, The Legend of Conan.
Aside from Big Thunder Mountain, another Pirates sequel and the aforementioned Matterhorn, Disney is currently working on adapting the Jungle Cruise ride into a feature film. But none of these projects can compare to what may very well be the supreme theme park movie in Magic Kingdom, the story of which takes place entirely inside a Disneyland park. While it sounds about as exciting as reading vacation brochure, Magic Kingdom actually has some top-notch talent behind it in the form of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and screenwriter Michael Chabon and director Jon Favreau.
So it seems that no matter how many other properties Disney is able to gobble up for a larger piece of your entertainment dollar, there are still plenty of creative types who think Disneyland itself could be the inspiration for the next big movie or television program.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on Big Thunder Mountain as news is made available.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter