1.11.2019

On December 3, 2018, Tomorrowland producer John Walker was a guest on The Tomorrow Society Podcast. He offered his perspective on tackling the film's difficult story, and its many iterations:
"It was tough. We struggled with it. In the original version, we didn't meet Frank Walker until deep into the second act. So, George didn't even appear until pretty deep into the film. That didn't seem to work. We were trying to figure out how to get him, and his younger self, and Britt, and everybody setup at the beginning. It got a little clunky. I don't think we solved that completely. 
It would be fun to go back and try to recut it a little bit, more the way we wanted it. We also had this huge animated sequence that played while young Frank was in the boat going to Tomorrowland, and we had to cut all of that too." 
When asked why he thinks the film didn't get the success it deserved:
"I don't think we solved it ourselves. There were things we wanted to change, and we didn't really have time to do it. We didn't succeed as much as we wanted to. I also think that part of it is that it's not a cynically movie. It kinda wears its heart on its sleeve. It's an easy target. I think a lot of people would rather have edgier, darker visions of the future than ours was. 
And I think we made the mistake of being too coy in the marketing. We didn't want to reveal a lot about it, so we were kinda secretive about what the movie was about, and I think we gave the impression that it had some huge twist. That is was like The Crying Game or something. That if you gave it away, you'd ruin the movie. And there wasn't anything like that in the film, it was just that we wanted it to be a surprise for folks ... 
... I think that was a mistake on our part. And I don't think we realized at the time. We were just like, 'we think movie's in general show too much in the trailers', we just want everybody to open their Christmas presents on Christmas. I think that got conflated with this idea that there's this big, big surprise in the film that will be ruined if we give too much away. That was never our intent, but I think it may have been perceived that way."
He ends on a hopeful note:
Who knows? Maybe Tomorrowland will have a life like The Iron Giant. It just keeps rolling along.
When considering Walker's comments on "the way we wanted it" coupled with editor Walter Murch's "shoot the chicken to scare the monkey" firing from the film, a picture is painted of a struggle not only with the creative challenges of the film itself, as director Brad Bird described in our interview with him, but also with the studio powers-that-be. Despite Bird's previous insistence that the theatrical release is his director's cut, there may still be interest in alternate versions of the film. (Even if only as an educational curiosity, in the vein of the Blade Runner Workprint.)

As it sits completed on a hard drive collecting dust, Perhaps The Tomorrowland That Never Was could one day make its way to Disney's forthcoming streaming service.


It is also interesting to note that Walker's justification for the controversial "bookends" added to the film during reshoots aligns with writer Damon Lindelof's explanation given in his interview for our anniversary commentary a few years back:
"You just cut out all the stuff that doesn't work, and see what's left. Then you try to identify other problems. To speak specifically to the idea of the bookends, Frank's voiceover, or George appearing at the very beginning -- there was a sense that the movie took too long to get to Frank Walker. By the time Casey got to him, it was sort of like, 'hey, George Clooney's on the poster, we saw him in the trailer', it's not like he's some mysterious reveal. And even Luke gets to Obi-Wan twenty minutes in. 
Even though the prologue features young Frank, we felt like we needed an injection of George very, very quickly. That was the thinking at first in terms of, 'lets start with this opening of him directly addressing the audience.'  
And the other issue was the stakes of the movie. It takes quite some time for Casey to reveal that not only did something happen in Tomorrowland, but what happened there, if it cannot be solved, will impact the fate of the world itself. We needed, right out of the gate, for somebody to say, 'this is what we're looking at.' We're looking at potential apocalypse. This is the state of the world that we live in now.  
It was probably not done in the most deft way. When you're dealing with reshoots or solving problems in the editing room, all the ideas that you had of nuance and trusting the audience, writing above the audience, and knowing that they're intelligent enough to basically get it, you start to doubt yourself, and you're just like, 'I need a character to basically say 'here's what the plot of the movie, and we'll get to me shortly, etc. etc.' That was the thinking behind the framing mechanism."

12.27.2018

If you know what it is, you've waited long enough.

A fan tribute to the infamous crew pin, which also made an appearance in the fabled "1952 Box" publicity stunt.

Its design was inspired by a frame from the introductory animation of the original Disneyland TV show hosted by Walt Disney. When frozen at just the the right moment, on a pair of gates mid-swing as they reveal a launching rocket, the negative space of the opening creates an iconic "T" shape.

1" in diameter.

#DreamersStickTogether

The Dreamer's 1952 Crew Tribute Pin.
Available now. Get yours on Etsy.



10.25.2018

On October 25, 2018, composer Michael Giacchino reminisced about his Tomorrowland cameo by sharing a behind-the-scenes video from the film's Blu-ray release:


Director Brad Bird joined in:


To which Giacchino proposed:


At this point, we could not resist contributing a concept poster, in response to which Bird expanded Lazarus' lore for a TV Guide description:


So, Tomorrownauts, does the heartbreaking backstory of Mike Lazarus make the cut for your personal Tomorrowland headcanon?

Click for full poster.

8.30.2018

"I got tired of waiting around for someone else to do it for me." - Frank Walker

We were tired of flat, oversized, inaccurate (and out of production) replicas of the 1984 Tomorrowland pin.

Presenting the Dreamer's Replica Pin, available now.

5.22.2018

When we interviewed writer/producer Damon Lindelof two years ago for our Anniversary Commentary, we inquired about making the Tomorrowland shooting screenplay available for fans to read. He graciously tasked us with donating a copy to the fantastic Writers Guild Foundation Library here in Los Angeles.

Needless to say, I was delighted to finally get my hands on the script, which revealed a lot of previously unknown facts about the film's story and production. Let's jump in:

1. There were a lot of drafts. 

The cover page, on which production drafts list all alterations by page color, indicates eleven revision dates. They span from 6/24/13, before principle photography began, through 10/29/14, during the film's reshoots.

2. Frank's voiceover bookends were more extensive.
When the decision was made to bookend the film with George Clooney's Frank addressing the camera, they prepared an extensive amount of options from which to choose, finally landing on the single interjection seen in the finished film.

click to expand

Most interestingly, they attempted to use this conversational flashback structure to preserve a snippet of the History of Tomorrow: Origins of Plus Ultra animation/dark ride deleted scene.

3. Young Frank gives Athena a gift from the Fair.
As we suspected from remnants in the film, Young Frank gives Athena a small chain pin souvenir from the World's Fair:

4. The title card was originally an answer to the question, "What is this place?"
As was correctly assumed and restored in the mysterious anonymous Tomorrowland: The Dreamer's Cut fan-edit of the film, its title card originally appeared after the (linear) World's Fair prologue, as a triumphant response to Young Frank asking Athena "What is this place?", signalling the transition to modern day and Casey's introduction.

5. Casey causes her dad to be fired.
In a nice moment originally at the end of the existing scene in which Eddie drives Casey home from her stay in jail, he offers a nuanced twist on the previously introduced "two wolves" metaphor:


6. The movie actually understands how eBay works.
The Gernsbacks, however, do not. An often cited "error" in the film, Casey finds an eBay listing for the Tomorrowland pin -- that they are looking to buy, not sell. As it happens, a deleted piece of dialogue addresses this leap:

Turns out evil Audio Animatronic robots don't have an eBay subroutine.

7. Casey tells her dad a lot more in that phone call.
On the run, Casey calls home to let her dad know she's alright. Originally, she continued on to do a bit more than that, offering Eddie a glimpse of what's to come:


8. Athena was built in 1957.
A version of this exchange appeared in the Tomorrowland novelization, but it's a nice tidbit to see corroborated in its original form. While on the road, Casey assumes that Athena is from the future. The robot girl takes the opportunity to correct her:


9. Nix has a lovely singing voice.
The studio wanted more Nix, so this narratively unnecessary cutaway was written to bring him back to the audience's attention before the heroes arrive in Tomorrowland. The scene was planned and storyboarded for the period of reshoots, but was not shot.

A shame, as it would have been nice to have a reprise of "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," and we know Hugh Laurie's got a great set of pipes, but in context the scene falls too close to their ultimate arrival and reveals no new information:


10. The device in the Eiffel Tower gantry is called "The Thinking Machine."
The prop was on display at the El Capitan Theater, and the machine memorably dispenses fireworks as a series of numbers spin past Plus Ultra logos. (Which were digitally replaced with the more modern logo, as the prop itself featured a vintage-inspired serifed logo.) Well, it's got a name.


11. Nix insists he's not a robot. 
As previously observed in the novelization of the film, Casey can't help but ask if Nix is a robot. He answers in the negative, but you're welcome to spin your own theories for the sake of sequel headcanon:


12. Frank gets catty with Nix. 
Making literal what happened to the Tomorrowland he once loved, Frank insults Nix:



13. The event that causes the apocalypse is called "The Inevitability".
Remnants of this still exist in the film, as Athena states, "Apparently, a one ten-thousandth
variable in The Inevitability wasn’t convincing enough to change his mind." This term comes from an excised portion of an earlier scene. Nix's discussion regarding the Monitor originally went into addition depth regarding his observations:


14. They are The Flicker.
Also in the realm of recurring terms, a sweet exchange between Frank and Athena reacting to Casey's epiphany was excised, just prior to them being escorted to Bridgeway Plaza by Nix's guards:


15. "Dystopia is positively sexy!"
In our conversation with Lindelof, he revealed that Nix's final speech was penned exclusively by Brad Bird, who he likes to imagine has been performing himself at dinner parties for years. The original version includes many amusing turns of phrase, including "Drones, baby, drones!"


16. Athena's "last thoughts" make me cry. 
And their unedited version is no exception:


17. EXT. FIELD OF WHEAT - TOMORROWLAND
The final moments of the film are as beautiful to read as they are to see. They also reveal an previously unseen Haitian recruit, installing solar panels on an experimental low-cost home:

18. Damn Lindelof is an incredibly talented screenwriter.
As a fan of his work, I have had the pleasure of reading several of his screenplays. While it is impossible to separate his contributions from Bird's pass, the effect of his contribution is felt throughout. His on-the-page craft is remarkable, and it is a real treat for me to see it applied to Tomorrowland alongside the efforts of Jeff Jensen and Brad Bird.

...

While we are not permitted to host the full screenplay file, for any dreamers based in Los Angeles (or those who will be visiting), we have passed the screenplay along to the Writer's Guild Foundation Library, and were ensured that the screenplay will be made available as part of their archive, which is open to the public. (As of publication, Tomorrowland has not yet appeared in their catalog.)