Walt Disney Pictures released two movies based on its theme park attractions in 2003; one of them, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, was an immense hit that gave rise to a billion-dollar franchise, while the other, The Haunted Mansion, was far less successful - critically and financially - but still grossed a tidy sum at the box office (over $180 million worldwide).
The Mouse House has since attempted multiple times to bring another of its popular theme park rides to the big screen, with It's a Small World being the latest subject. Disney's musical boat ride - accompanied by the famous Sherman Brothers' tune that's either charmingly or irritatingly catchy (depending on who you ask) - takes guests on a tour around the world and explores many a different culture. While It's a Small World didn't open in Disneyland until 1966, the ride originated at the 1964 New York World's Fair (making this year its 50th anniversary).
Deadline is reporting that the It's a Small World movie script will be written by Jared Stern (based on his pitch), who also provided "additional story material" for the Disney animated features Bolt, The Princess and the Frog, and Wreck-It Ralph, and is a co-writer on the upcoming LEGO Movie sequel. Stern will produce the film along with LEGO Movie producer Dan Lin and Jon Turteltaub (Last Vegas), with the latter having also been recruited to serve as the movie's director.
Turteltaub has more than twenty years of experience working for the Mouse House. He specializes in assembling inoffensive and uplifting family-friendly movies for the company, including the underdog sports tale Cool Runnings, coming of adult-age comedy The Kid, and Nicolas Cage vehicles in the shapes of the National Treasure movies and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. In other words, he's exactly the sort of filmmaker that you would expect Disney to hire to adapt It's a Small World into a kid-friendly feature that is "envisioned as a potential franchise for the studio."
That said, Deadline's report cautions that "this one will take awhile to come together" - assuming it comes together at all. We're still waiting to see if Jon Favreau gets to make his Magic Kingdom movie, while other Disney rides-turned movie projects we've reported on these past few years - like Guillermo del Toro's Haunted Mansion reboot and Jungle Cruise starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen - appear to either be dead or indefinitely delayed right now.
Heck, even Pirates of the Caribbean 5 isn't a sure thing for the time being (despite the previous installment grossing over $1 billion worldwide). In other words, it's best to wait and see if even a single It's a Small World movie progresses beyond the early development stage of pre-production - before we start the franchise conversation, that is.
We'll keep you posted on development for It's a Small World.