You can count me among those already eagerly-anticipating director Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland (which arrives close to two years from now), for these reasons:

  1. After The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, I’m up for whatever Bird wants to make next.
  2. The under-wraps screenplay could be a science fiction and historical fiction mashup, about Walt Disney founding the Imagineers in 1952 (that year was the project’s original working title).

As if that fire needed more fuel: we have an update that Hugh Laurie is negotiating to play the villain (or, at the least, ‘antagonist’), opposite George Clooney as the yet-to-be-revealed hero. Heat Vision is reporting on the situation, affirming those rumors about the plot involving a mission to learn about the unknown – in the vein of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind (note that co-writer Damon Lindelof announced on Twitter that it’s not about “ALIENS”).

Since the conclusion of House (which ran from 2004-12), Laurie’s circled the villain role in the RoboCop reboot – which ended up going to Michael Keaton instead – and entered talks to play Blackbeard in NBC’s pirate drama series Crossbones. He seems most likely to play a sinister government agent in Bird’s sci-fi project (more on that later), which sounds like an great fit for the Golden Globe-winning actor – who can easily be posh and threatening at the same time.

People have spent the last few weeks examining pictures Tweeted by Bird and Lindelof, revealing the contents of a case labeled “1952.” That material includes vintage photographs of Walt Disney himself, a book titled “Model Research: The National Advisory For Aeronautics 1918-1958″, and an “Amazing Stories” comic book marking Buck Rogers’ debut – but what does it all mean?

Well, here’s one possible answer (via /Film):

Jim Hill, a major Disney historian, theorizes that the plot of Tomorrowland has to do with the fabled Air Force UFO investigation Project Blue Book, and that Disney was approached to craft propaganda that would eventually reveal the existence of UFOs to the American public.

Hill uses many small facts and mentions in various interviews to assemble the theory, and it all revolves around a set of three ’Tomorrowland’ themed Disneyland episodes from the mid-50s… The idea is that the fourth episode would have revealed UFOs to the public; that episode was never produced, supposedly because the Air Force decided to keep the info classified.

Well, if that’s the case, then Lindelof is choosing his words carefully when he says that Tomorrowland is technically not about aliens. Could all this speculation be way off base – or is this going to be like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where something like ‘inter-dimensional beings’ is ultimately code for ‘aliens in everything but name’?

The screenwriter and producer has earned something of an infamous reputation for being a ‘two-act pony’ (re: terrific at buildup, weak at payoff) after his work on the TV show Lost and Ridley Scott’s faux-Alien prequel Prometheus, which many see as a warning flag for this project. That all this secrecy and interest-building for Tomorrowland brings back memories of the pre-release campaigns for Lindelof’s previous work, isn’t helping in that area.

It’s worth mentioning that both Bird and screenwriter Jeff Jensen (who is also a contributor to Entertainment Weekly) are helping to revamp Lindelof’s screenplay. Coupled with the encouraging casting announcements, that should provide comfort for anyone feeling concerned that Lindelof might be as much a liability as an asset for this intriguing, yet secretive, project.

Tomorrowland opens in theaters on December 19th, 2014.

Source: THR, /Film