Five years ago today, Tomorrowland was release theatrically.

Throughout its fifth anniversary year, we'll be doing a scene-by-scene deep dive analysis of the movie on The Tomorrowland Times Podcast, launching today with a look back at our years of speculation leading up to the release.


Legendary Hollywood jeweler Maggie Schpak, who created many of the wearable props for Tomorrowland, has donated four production-made "1964" pins and the original striking plate to a charity auction benefiting Artisan's Asylum

The items are available for viewing and bidding on eBay.
We previously featured a retrospective interview with Maggie, covering her extensive career making props for the Star Trek franchise:


Back in February, legendary voice actor Maurice LaMarche discussed playing Orson Welles for the Tomorrowland animated short "The Origins of Plus Ultra" on the Speech Bubble podcast:

LaMarche details the sequence's deletion from the film:
That was supposed to be a thing where Welles, through an animated opening, brings (in) young George Clooney and introduces him to the whole Plus Ultra thing. Miguel (Ferrer) called me from the world premiere ... and said "Dude, you're so fantastic in the beginning of that thing" ... apparently, Brad (Bird) thought it really halted the momentum of the picture. So it got taken out by the time it actually dropped.
While he is correct that the sequence was ultimately deleted from the film, he is conflating two separate instances of its potential life. The first was to be shown as a multimedia "dark ride" experience after young Frank enters the secret room beneath it's a small world and before he reaches the transport platform. Only one image of this sequence being filmed (with the animation projected onto a vapor screen) is known to exist:

The production team attempted to preserve this segment through many iterations of the screenplay, reshoots, and edit, before finally deciding to remove it entirely.

On the eve of the film's release, director Brad Bird got cold feet and decided he wanted to have the short attached to the front of the movie. Despite calling all of the distribution partners, Disney was only able to convince ArcLight Cinemas and their own El Capitan Theatre to attach the short so late in the game.

The home video releases also include an option to play the movie with the short attached.

An unfinished and "redacted" version of this short (*bleeping* out the name "Plus Ultra" from the voiceover) originally debuted during the live-action feature panel at D23 Expo 2013, introduced by director Brad Bird and writer Damon Lindelof as having been found in the mysterious 1952 Box.

The prop disc upon which the animation was supposedly found names the piece "A History of Tomorrow", but was subsequently released in full as "The Origins of Plus Ultra".


The Monterey Herald recently profiled one of the youngest teams to enter the FIRST Robotics Competition, who took inspiration from Tomorrowland when naming their team "Plus Ultra":

“The Plus Ultra motto in the movie ‘Tomorrowland’ and in that series is ‘tomorrow is ours’ and I think that is a very good representation of our team,” said Alden. She says the team is made of young individuals or underrepresented minorities and around 70 percent of them are interested in careers in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math field.
The motto she references, the Latin "Cras es Noster", became part of Plus Ultra's mythology during their first appearance in the 2013 alternate reality game The Optimist. (Though it does not appear in the film itself.)

Most notably, this team of young Tomorrownauts was granted official permission by Disney to use the Plus Ultra name and logo:

Disney has provided the team with a limited usage license that allows the team to use the name and logo.
This is particularly significant considering Disney's unwillingness to acknowledge the film, having summarily refused merchandise licensing requests in the years since its release.

Stories like these speak to Tomorrowland's burgeoning status as a cult classic, and offer hope not only for the future of this film's fandom, but for the generation who will grow up inspired by its message. In the words of Frank Walker himself, "Find the ones who haven't given up. They're the future."

You can follow the Plus Ultra Robotics team on Instagram.


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."