Disney have had a good success rate with movies based on its theme park attractions; perhaps the most well-known adaptation is the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the first installment of which- The Curse of the Black Pearl- took over $654 million globally. The movie has so far spawned a further four sequels, with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales scheduled to arrive in theaters in May of 2017.
Disney also turned another of their well-known rides, The Haunted Mansion, into a feature film, starring Eddie Murphy. Released in 2003, the movie was nowhere near as successful as Pirates, and not well-received by critics either, but regardless, it still grossed over $180 million worldwide. (And for those who're wondering: no, there's sadly not any new progress to report on Guillermo del Toro's proposed Haunted Mansion movie, at the moment.)
Turning their attentions to other popular attractions, in 2014 Disney began development of an It's a Small World movie adaptation. The ride, which is over 50 years old, features hundreds of animatronic dolls dressed in traditional costumes from around the world. As 'guests' travel around in boats, the dolls 'sing' the Small World theme song which is either loved or loathed, depending on your view.
After nearly two years of quiet, things appear to be moving forward with the film, with Deadline reporting the appointment of new screenwriters for the project. Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio have been brought in to write the script , which is described as a family film - presumably targeted at those younger family groups who would enjoy the theme park ride. Rasmussen and Di Meglio have several credits together, including License to Wed and Smother. The pair have also written for Meet the Fockers and The Girlfriend Equation.
When the Small World movie was first reported in 2014, Disney had attached Jared Stern as scriptwriter and John Turteltaub as director. Both have a strong history of collaborating with Disney on projects; Stern has frequently provided additional material for movies such as Bolt and Wreck-It Ralph while Turteltaub has worked on a variety of movies such as National Treasure and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Stern has now provided a draft of the script, while Turteltaub remains attached to direct and also to produce, along with The Lego Movie's Dan Lin. At present, no time frame is set for the film with regards to any possible release date, and no plot details are known.
The idea of a movie based on such a popular ride is an intriguing one. Given that the Small World ride has no plot to it whatsoever, it gives Rasmussen and Di Meglio a free licence for their imagination to take flight. The message behind the Sherman brothers' catchy theme song is one of peace and harmony, so one can assume that will be a recurrent theme - but from there, it's anyone's guess. At present, it seems to be one of those projects that will either be a complete disaster or a massive, surprise hit. To be fair, many people assumed a Pirates of the Caribbean movie would never work and yet it tapped into something in the public's psyche which made most people love it. Whatever the outcome with the It's a Small World movie, one thing will be certain; that theme song will be stuck in your head for days.
We will keep you updated with news about the It's a Small World movie as it develops.