Walt Disney Pictures has selected to move forward with two fairly different projects: A computer-animated adaptation of author Philip K. Dick's fantasy short story, King of the Elves, and a movie based on its famous Matterhorn theme park attraction (tentatively titled The Hill).
King of the Elves has been officially on the docket for the Mouse House since 2008, but is now prepped to begin moving forward after a lengthy delay. The Matterhorn film, on the other hand, is just the newest Disney ride-turned-movie project on the horizon.
Variety says that Horrible Bosses co-writer Michael Markowitz has been recruited to script King of the Elves, which tells the tale of how an ordinary man from the Mississippi Delta is chosen as the leader of a group of tiny fantastical creatures - after he rescues them from a vicious troll.
Needless to say, the film will offer a rather different version of elves than the kind glimpsed in the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the upcoming Hobbit movies. Likewise, Dick's King of the Elves story is a departure from the sort of mind-bending, philosophical sci-fi lore he's best known for (see: Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, etc.).
Bolt director/co-writer Chris Williams is "shepherding" the project, which presumably means he'll be calling the shots on this computer-animated tale as well. Given the source material, there's good reason to hope that both King of the Elves and next year's new Disney/Pixar film, Brave, will prove themselves to be smart and sophisticated pieces of fantasy storytelling that offer appeal for moviegoers of all ages.
Given that this year's fourth entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has already secured about $1 billion at the worldwide box office, it's no shock that Disney is eagerly pressing ahead with other movies based on its theme park attractions - including Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom, The Museum of the Weird, and a Haunted Mansion reboot. Matterhorn/The Hill is just the latest attraction to join the party, so to speak.
Similar to Disney's original classic tobaggan-themed roller coaster ride, the Matterhorn-based film is being conceived as (to quote Heat Vision):
"... A thrilling, fast-paced movie centering on five young adventure seekers who, for mysterious reasons, are called to the top of the [famous Swiss] mountain and encounter a Yetis [a.k.a. Abominable Snowman] on the journey down."
Much like the onslaught of board games movies on the horizon (see a roundup of those HERE), most of these Disney ride projects will be fashioned as standard genre pictures (globe-trotting adventure, fantasy, supernatural horror, etc.) that retain the name of their influence(s) for marketing tie-in purposes. Like it or loathe it, brand recognition is the name of the game in Hollywood right now; whether or not the final product turns out to be generic, however, depends more on the creative talent involved in bringing the rides to life. Take all that as you will.
King of the Elves will likely reach theaters during the holiday season of 2013.
We'll keep you posted on the status of the Matterhorn movie (a.k.a. The Hill) as more information is released.
Source: Heat Vision, Variety