Iron Man 1 & 2 and Chef director Jon Favreau’s live-action/CGI version of The Jungle Book will reach theaters in less than two weeks (at the time of writing this), but already the filmmaker has another Disney-based project in mind that he wants to tackle in the future. That would be Magic Kingdom, a movie inspired by the Disney theme park that Favreau has been developing since as far back as 2010 – but also one that has yet to get an official green-light from the Mouse House.
Films such as The Jungle Book and similar live-action fairy tale re-imaginings/retellings have been a priority for Disney in recent years and that doesn’t look to change anytime soon – what with Jungle Book expected to perform well at the box office during 2016, while Disney’s Alice in Wonderland sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and the Pete’s Dragon remake are poised to follow suit later this year too. All the same, Favreau feels that his efforts on The Jungle Book ought to help pave the way for Magic Kingdom to arrive in the foreseeable future, in more ways than one.
Ronald D. Moore (of Battlestar Galactica and Outlander fame) developed a script for Magic Kingdom several years back, but that screenplay ended up not being used by Disney – as screenwriter Michael Chabon (Spider-Man 2, John Carter) was instead recruited to develop the script, once Favreau had become involved with the movie adaptation as director. Favreau, during the promotional tour for The Jungle Book, offered Collider the following update on Magic Kingdom and reiterated the basic premise for the (family-friendly) film:
Well hopefully now with this collaboration if it works out well we can explore what Magic Kingdom could be. Magic Kingdom is a story I’ve been developing. Michael Chabon wrote the draft about Disneyland coming to life, and all of the different lands and attractions all overlapping one another and creating a big adventure that a family gets caught up in. It’s something I feel very passionate about. Part of the reason I explored this technology I used on Jungle Book is because I was considering it for that film, and maybe it might be something we work together on.
Early reviews for Favreau’s The Jungle Book have begun to make their way online and thus far the consensus is quite positive (the movie is at at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes after nine reviews). Critics such as The Wrap‘s Alonso Duralde have applauded the film – which combines young actor Neel Sethi (as Mowgli) with CGI animals and digitally-rendered settings – and are saying that it features “one of the big screen’s most engrossing artificial worlds since “Avatar.” (Not to mention the most convincing conversational creatures since “Babe.”)” A movie such as Magic Kingdom shall require similarly heavy amounts of CGI combined with real-life people in order to bring its more fantastical elements to life on the big screen, so one can see how the experience Favreau has gained making Jungle Book should benefit the former, too.
If Jungle Book continues to go over well critically (and, once it actually hits theaters, commercially), then it should only bolster Disney’s confidence in Favreau’s ability to make a worthwhile Magic Kingdom movie – or, at the least, one that could succeed in ways that last year’s Tomorrowland did not. The Mouse House may need some extra coaxing to give the go-ahead to an expensive live-action film that isn’t based on a property with a proven track record at the box office for the studio (following the company’s under-performing John Carter, Lone Ranger, and Tomorrowland film releases), as is the case with Magic Kingdom. Nevertheless, there’s hope yet that Favreau’s Magic Kingdom can climb out of the development purgatory that other director-driven Disney theme park film adaptations (see, for example, Guillermo del Toro’s Haunted Mansion) have proven unable to escape from in recent years.
If not then, well, there’s still Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales on the horizon, as far as Disney theme park rides-turned movies are concerned.
The Jungle Book opens in U.S. theaters on April 15th, 2016. We’ll bring you more information on Magic Kingdom as it becomes available.