Jon Favreau Talks Vision, Inspiration & Story for ‘Magic Kingdom’

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 4th, 2013 at 4:02 am,

magic kingdom entrance Jon Favreau Talks Vision, Inspiration & Story for Magic Kingdom

Jon Favreau has enjoyed a string of mainstream directorial successes in recent years – Elf (still one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies), Zathura, and the Iron Man franchise have launched him into top tier of Hollywood directors. Next summer, he aims to continue this hot streak with the release of the star-studded, Western/Sci-fi mash-up, Cowboys and Aliens.

With his latest film wrapping up soon, Favreau is now focusing his attention towards his next family friendly movie, Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Favreau was a recent guest on the Ralph Cirellas Sirius Satellite talk show GEEKTIME! where he discussed his upcoming projects, opening up about his inspirations for Magic Kingdom and what he is expecting for the film.

“[The story for Magic Kingdom] is essentially a family caught in Disneyland, bringing all of the attractions to life. I really want to plumb the depths of the history of the park because it’s a place I love to go a few times a year.”

Disney has several famous historical attractions they knew could make for potential movie franchises due of their brand recognition and familiarity with the general public. They started with a bang and capitalized on the public’s nostalgia in adapting the Pirates of the Caribbean ride into one of the biggest movie franchises in history. Disney is also turning other key attractions into films, hoping to mimic those same results.

Some of these include movies based on the Jungle Cruise and Tiki Room attractions, as well as upcoming remakes of Haunted Mansion and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Favreau has the daunting task of pulling inspiration for Magic Kingdom from all of those attractions and more into a single feature film. He is however, very aware of the fact that Disney’s theme parks conjure pleasant memories for most adults of their childhood and plans on taking that into account when making the movie.

“Is it going to be a mash up of all the other Disney movies? Is it going to be like they [Marvel] are doing with The Avengers or it is going to be like Night of the Museum? There is a fun nostalgic look that would be fun for the adults – like we did in Iron Man 2 with the Stark Expo and the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park.  We started to sit scratch the surface with that one and I think there’s a fun nostalgic to it. With Elf, there was a nostalgia to it like the Rankin Bass Christmas Specials and I think with Disneyland there is something I can do for the grown-ups – and for the kids you just make it this fun dream like experience.”

“When Walt first set out to do it there was something very nostalgic and forward looking at the same time about Disneyland.  When you went down Main Street it was the turn of the century, it was days gone by and Tomorrowland was the future. There is such a weird shared experience that any of us who’s ever gone to Disneyland feels that I don’t think has really been mined yet. It’s this collective subconscious that we have and there are these archetypes that are so strong that there’s a fun way to present something that is family entertainment but still will take you through the experience that you had [growing up].”

Favreau has a clear vision for Magic Kingdom and he’s putting in quite a bit of time and research to get that perfect feeling of nostalgia he is looking for.

“I said, look I’ve got to watch every Disney property. I started with Steamboat Willie working my way all the way up. I really want to focus on the classic stuff like Dumbo, Steamboat Willie, all the early black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons – all the Fantasyland stuff. I think there was something timeless about what Walt [Disney] did and I want to explore, not just Disneyland, but Walt’s vision of Disneyland. If you look at his concept art it diverges a little bit from what the park turned into over time; but if you look at his original concept art and really explore what that world is, I think there is something really fun and magical to be done there.”

Sounds like his Netflix instant queue is going to be filled up for quite some time because even if he sticks to films made before 1980 he still has plenty of research to catch up on.

petes dragon jack sparrow Jon Favreau Talks Vision, Inspiration & Story for Magic Kingdom

Favreau then spoke a bit about whether he will blend the existing Disney movies into Magic Kingdom – a natural assumption because plenty of people grew up watching Disney films in the 70s and 80s which included many characters that younger audiences today may not even know about. Will audiences see characters like Elliot from Pete’s Dragon or possibly take a trip on the bed from Bedknobs and Broomsticks? Or is it more likely that we’ll see more recent names like Jack Sparrow, Buzz Lightyear or Lightning McQueen in Magic Kingdom?

“I don’t think it’s going to be mixing all the other movies. I think it’s going to be its own thing; I don’t think it will be like Night of the Museum. I want to make it a little bit spookier like the old Disney movies were and try to really capture that tone.

This is something that I’ve always been drawn to and now to say ‘What characters do you want to use and how do you not make it Space Jam or like the Christmas parade with every character?’ How do you show restraint and how do you make it tie into the emotional development of the characters?”

It’s encouraging to see Favreau concerned with not over-doing it with cameo appearances by all the Disney characters and he has earned the right to a little benefit of the doubt when it comes to directing Magic Kingdom – and it would seem Disney agrees.

“Disney just gave me the keys to the Kingdom, I’m supposed to meet with the Imagineers. Their big thing now, if you look, they have Guillermo del Toro making Haunted Mansion, David Fincher doing 20,000 Leagues and you see what they have done with Pirates [of the Caribbean]. They’re looking to bring interesting filmmakers with interesting takes to attack their historical material and bring new life to it.”

Disney is making a noticeable effort to not just “cash in” their famous branding by making every attraction they have into a film franchise as quickly as possible. They have reached out to some of the hottest directors on the scene today to bring their stories to life and it will no doubt show in the final product.

jon favreau iron man mark 1 Jon Favreau Talks Vision, Inspiration & Story for Magic Kingdom

Favreau also said that he would once again team up with the people he worked with on the upcoming Cowboys and Aliens and though he didn’t mention anyone specifically it is probably safe to assume he was referring to the SFX company Legacy who he’s collaborated with since Zathura.

Magic Kingdom is slated to open its gates to visitors in 2013. Cowboys and Aliens hit theaters July 29th, 2011.

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Source:  GEEKTIME!

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  1. Dont screw it up; dont make it suck like Zathura…Disneyland is an AMERICAN ICON from one of the worlds greatest people.

  2. You know Favreau should really do a movie based on his character from his Episodes on Friends. Focusing on that characters goal on becoming the Ultimate Fighter LOL

  3. Fincher is doing 20,000 leagues? His style and tone would seem a natural fit for a dark brooding sea epic. I’m in for that. I’m wary of “Magic Kingdom” however. I like Favreau’s films. He’s a good director with a good track record. The idea still seems off the wall for a theatrical release, but I’d said the same thing about Pirates before that came out. If any director had to do it, he’s probably the best fit for it. Zathura and Elf seem like the type of films which could be a natural creative resume for doing what he’s attempting, whatever that is. It’s still a little hazy.

    I’ll keep my guage at ‘curious’ for now. When we start seeing material from it, and if it warrants it, then I’ll move it to “want to see”.

  4. So, Favreau is Disney´s new best friend, huh? I wonder how that will affect the third Iron Man movie…

    • Doesn’t Disney own Marvel now? So how does that affect anything?

      • What do mean? I doubt there will be any crossover between classic Disney characters and Marvel characters…I can’t see that making any sense in the overall scheme of things.

    • Favreau said on Howard Stern he will not be directing the third Iron Man movie.

  5. He is very hit or miss to me. Liked IM and IM2 and C&A looks good, but Elf and Zarhura IMHO were some of the worst films I’ve seen. Will Ferral films tend to be very Very low IQ d.umb humor films but Elf was probably the lowest right up there with the race car one. Zarhura was just a bad film. Pretty much bad on every level and at the moment I can’t think of one redeaming part in it.

    • I’d agree with you about Zathura to a point. The movie had its good points (I liked the whole robot scene) but the interaction between the brothers was a bit awkward. Elf on the other hand I totally enjoyed and watch it every season with my kids.

      Different strokes though I guess right? :)

      • Yea different strokes indeed just not my style never been a fan of Will only like Stranger than fiction and The Producers was ok but he was a low part in that. Elf just isn’t my style but nice you have something to watch with your kids every year. Grr I’m gonna have to find one of those.

        Despite being one of the biggest Xmas lovers in the world I strangly dislike most movies about the holiday. Though A Christmas story is fun

        “Youll shoot your eye out”

        • LOL who doesn’t love A Christmas Story? My kids are still young so they really enjoy the classics like Rudolph and Charlie Brown (can’t say I’m disappointed).

          The main problem with most modern Christmas movies is they break away from traditional story lines for the sake of trying to reach a larger audience. Most show dysfunctional families in dysfunctional situations, slap the title “comedy on it and shove it out into theaters. The one recent exception I can think if is Christmas with the Kranks and even that had it’s moments of annoying story points.

          There is a reason people watch It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street time and again when it’s shown on TV – tradition. While Hollywood would like us to think audiences have “grown” in their ideas of a typical nuclear family (look at Modern Family as an example) and they are just pandering to our newly acquired tastes – most people long for old style traditions and would crave the chance to spend the Holidays with their families just like they did growing up.

          Sorry, went on a bit of a rant there…heck I could probably turn that entire viewpoint into an article :)

          • Rofl Paul the funny part Is I prefer the more modern Xmas films I like breaking away from the traditional and being a little creative I enjoyed The Kranks. I’m about ten minutes from sleep so the title escapes me but j really love that Ben Affleck Xmas film where he pays a family to let him spend Xmas with them. Found it so darn funny.

    • I actually thought IM2 was his worst, but I guess I should mention that I’ve never seen Zathura. To me the film lacked the charm of the original, and the story was obviously rushed. I even didn’t like RDJ as Stark in that film. At least the action was good, and War Machine rocked.

  6. This sounds awesome. I used to work in the parks in Florida for about 5 years. Always wondered what a movie about the parks would be like, and with Favreau at the helm I’m not worried. They have a book out that has a similar story line, with just the kids getting stuck in the park after closing, but I think its a bit darker.

  7. Walt Disney World never ceases to amaze the people. Their movies are loved by numerous kids and adults and their theme park attractions and rides are unforgettable. I’m sure if Disney is behind this movie, it will be great!

  8. This movie will be such a rip off of the kingdom keepers series.

  9. i think for the story of the magic kingdom movie,should be where a family goes to disneyland and strangely gets locked in the park for some reason.and they end up dealing with attraction characters coming to life,only to find out that constance the evil ghost bride and maleficent are behind the popualar and scary characters coming to life.and the dad played by ben stiller and the son have to stop the all out war.good verses evil story.this would be in 3d.

  10. Good idea but I think they should just do the whole thing lik kingdom keepers.. I mean c’mon! They submitted their idea to Disney lots of times

  11. I think this movie will be great, but really I think it should be done in WDW, because it’s much larger than Disneyland and I think the majority likes it over any theme park in the world-who wouldn’t, it’s in Florida? But ever since I was a kid, I had this vision of a movie that would have some of the Disney heroes pitted against the Disney villains; not like a Space Jam or Looney Tunes Back in Action. The difference between Disney and WB is that Disney has a sort of magical feel to it in everything it does, something a lot more powerful than WB. I was thinking of having Mickey and some of his pals, plus maybe Quasimodo, Figment, Baloo, Tigger, Eeyore, etc. face off against Scar, Shere Khan, Captain Hook, Ratigan, and Brer Fox. That would be something. I agree with Favreau, you have to sort of limit how many characters go in so there’s some character development but cameos wouldn’t hurt. I’m sort of against the idea of adding in just a regular family walking through, but if they must, make it somebody like Adam Sandler or Jerry Seinfeld and their specific family and have Gene Wilder have a return as a mysterious Imagineer.

  12. Two words: Kingdom. Keepers