June 9th, 2011
Deadline Hollywood breaks the news that screenwriter Damon Lindelof "makes 7-Figure Disney Deal To Write Secret Sci-Fi Feature." In addition to a mention of the "working title of 1952," the first whispers of a transmedia experience are made:

"... this project isn’t just being conceived for movies only, but that it has multiple platform aspirations." 

May 3rd, 2012
Deadline Hollywood breaks the news that Brad Bird would direct Damon Lindelof's "secrecy-shrouded script" called 1952 for Disney.

October 17th, 2012
Vulture posts an article which reports a rumor as to the origin of the 1952 working title:

... a banker’s box of files and documents that had been left moldering in Walt Disney’s personal development lab, WED Enterprises, which later became the studio’s vaunted Imagineering department. The box was originally labeled with the title of the studio’s 1965 comedy That Darn Cat!, which had been crossed out and in its place was written “1952.”

The article (mistakenly) indicates the film's plot focuses on UFOs/Aliens; a rumor that would persistently be reported and speculated on despite their source's correction.

January 23rd, 2013
Screenwriter Damon Lindeloff tweets a picture of a Disney archival box labeled "1952."

Later, Director Brad Bird tweets the first picture of the 1952 box's contents:

January 28th, 2013
Entertainment Weekly breaks the news that 1952 is, in fact, titled Tomorrowland

Februrary 4th, 2013
D23 posts an article in which Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline dissects and speculates on the contents of the 1952 box. 

March 3rd, 2013
Film journalist Drew McWeeny posts a revealing article which offers a first look at the film's story:

"A teenage girl, a genius middle-aged man (who was kicked out of Tomorrowland) and a pre-pubescent girl robot attempt to get to and unravel what happened to Tomorrowland, which exists in an alternative dimension, in order to save Earth."

According to the article, this rough logline was used during the casting process. (And turns out to be surprisingly close to official synopsis eventually released.) He goes on to describe:

The "Tomorrowland" that they keep referring to in this break-down appears to be a place where science has blown past the world we live in, and when Frank Walker was a young man, he first encountered the promise of Tomorrowland at the 1964 World's Fair.  David Nix was there, showing off his own work, and he told Walker to come back when he was older and his inventions actually worked.  A girl named Athena saw great promise in 11-year-old Frank, though, and she snuck him into Tomorrowland.  Eventually, Frank was discovered by Nix and thrown out, but not before learning that the girl he loved, Athena, was actually a robot.

By the time we meet Frank in the film, he's much older, and George Clooney is set to play the part.  Nix is the role that Hugh Laurie is signed for, and by the point the main story of the film kicks in, Nix has been the mayor of Tomorrowland for many years, and he's become rotten, corrupt.  Athena, unchanged since Frank was a young man, plays a key role in the film, and the hero is a girl named Casey who has a quick scientific mind that becomes important as the story unfolds.  Nix is a guy who values technical accomplishment over creative thinking, and when he throws Frank out of Tomorrowland, he's not alone.  Every creative thinker is banished, allowing Nix to focus purely on aesthetics and technical advancement for its own sake.

There's interdimensional travel, human-looking robots, and a quest for revenge on the part of Frank.  He is a bitter adult, and the film is not just about Casey's adventure, but also about Frank rediscovering the kid he used to be. 

Many of these details — such as the presence of the World's Fair — later revealed themselves to be true, however, in a video interview at the D23 expoTomorrowland writer Damon Lindelof responds to the article, stating: 

"It was way too early to have that level of plot detail out there. Some of which was accurate, some of which was inaccurate ... "

May 20th, 2013
In an interview by Alex Pappademas, screenwriter Damon Lindelof teases an upcoming Tomorrowland experience: 

"I will say that by the end of this summer, summer of ’13, we will be giving an explicit sort of curation of what inspired the movie, and then people will at least have a sense of what we’re excited about doing, if not the story."

June 13th, 2013
Disney changes Tomorrowland's release date from Dec. 19, 2014 to Dec. 12, 2014. 

July 8th, 2013
post on the Disney Parks Blog invites players to join in an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) experience called "The Optimist," which they describe as "a new alternate-reality game presented through a partnership between Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development and The Walt Disney Studios."

While its connection to the Tomorrowland film is not immediately evident, the involvement of The Walt Disney Studios as well as the background image of the game's landing page (optimist.disney.com) imply a yet-undisclosed tie-in. 

It is made immediately clear that the six-week experience was designed to culminate "at the ultimate Disney fan event, D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., August 9-11, 2013."

For a detailed recap of the ARG's events and story content, visit our Optimist page.

August 9-11, 2013
"The Optimist" concludes with a grand finale at Disney's D23 Expo. During a Society "induction" ceremony taking place in Disneyland's Main Street Cinema, a video displays what we believe to be the first piece of pre-production artwork from Tomorrowland:

Tomorrowland cityscape?
In the finale, players were also presented with a pin that would be worn by Tomorrowland director Brad Bird and screenwriter Damon Lindelof the following day:

Screenwriter Damon Lindelof wearing his Society pin at the 2013 D23 Expo.
Saturday, during Walt Disney Studio's "live action" arena presentation, "The Optimist" connection to Tomorrowland was reinforced: the distinctive "+U" symbol of the secret Society teased throughout the game is shown to not only be present on items in the 1952 box that "inspired" the film, but also on in a piece of "found" animated footage shown during the presentation, which describes the formation of the society.

While most attendees found this presentation bizarre and nonsensical, participants in "The Optimist" — themselves "inducted" into The Society in the game's finale — felt as though Bird and Lindelof were speaking directly to them. This confirmed that the experience of the previous six weeks did, in fact, flesh out the backstory of the film.    

August 10th, 2013
Film journalist Drew McWeeny posts a reflection on his initial article, also stating: 

"I was surprised at first by just how much my "Tomorrowland" piece seemed to bother both Bird and Lindelof, but that was because I didn't fully understand the larger cross-media game they were planning to play. And, as far as I can tell, they still plan to play it. The various Disney parks are going to be turned into very subtle puzzles for fans who want to play a real-world game that pieces together clues about the nature of the story they're going to tell, and the presentation that they held today, which I wrote about in my live-blog of the event, was definitely part of that larger narrative outside the film."

It is unclear whether the "cross-media game" McWeeny refers to was the recently completed "The Optimist" experience, or a viral marketing chapter yet to come. With the still unsolved content in the D23 Expo Tomorrowland booth/app and the not-yet-released animation reel shown at the live action  presentation, either seems possible.

August 20th, 2013
The Verge posts an article by Bryan Bishop, recounting the finale of "The Optimist" as well as an interview with Scott Trowbridge, vice president of creative at Imagineering Research & Development. This remains one of the only behind-the-scenes interviews with Disney regarding the ARG experience. 

August 26th, 2013
Walt Disney Studios issues a press release to announce the start of principal photography on Tomorrowland in Vancouver, along with the first cast/crew list and official synopsis for the film:

Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as “Tomorrowland.” 

September 16th, 2013
"Amelia" posts her "documentary," recapping the journey taken on "The Optimist" ARG experience. In an assumed — and appropriate — bridging nod to the film it ties into, the video is titled Tomorrow.


September 25th, 2013
Popular web comic artist and Tesla aficionado Matthew Inman (aka "The Oatmeal") posts a mysterious article entitled "Is Disney making a movie about Nikola Tesla?"

... they asked me a bunch of questions about Nikola Tesla. They asked what Tesla was doing in Colorado, and if he'd ever conducted experiments at Mineral King. They asked if Tesla belonged to an organization called "Plus Ultra", and if it was possible for him to have met Walt Disney.

It is significant to note that this is the first explicit instance of the name "Plus Ultra" being used in reference to The Society, beyond its cryptic "+U" moniker used in "The Optimist."

While the meeting described undoubtedly took place, the degree to which The Oatmeal has been brought into the larger narrative of the film is unclear. It seems unlikely that Bird would "question" him about Tesla's involvement with his fictional organization in the off-chance that he would eventually blog about it.

November 8th, 2013
After Star Wars Episode VII vacated its prime summer spot, the release date for Tomorrowland is changed from December 12, 2014 to May 22, 2015.

February 6th, 2014
Director Brad Bird announces the completion of filming on Tomorrowland.

5 comments:

  1. Have you determined a username that will get you into http://plusultrasociety.com/index.html ? I have been trying for hours without success, but trying to remain Optimistic. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is the entry code? I deciphered the morse code, subtracted the numbers, entered the results, no luck. the numbers aren't lat-long coords. It would be Antarctica.

      Delete
  2. Ahhh, never mind. I see it has been published on another page of your website. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd love to learn more. Keep up the good work.

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  4. I know a lot about this stuff from my connection to the actor Raffey Cassidy who played Athena in the movie.She told me a lot about it

    ReplyDelete