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The New Haunted Mansion Is Full of the Ghosts of Imagineers
Spoilers ahead for Haunted Mansion , in theaters now.
Disney’s newly released second attempt at a Haunted Mansion movie is definitely more representative of the theme-park ride it’s based on than the 2003 film featuring Eddie Murphy. For starters, neither the Disneyland or Walt Disney World ride has any discussion of the subprime-mortgage boom, and that’s like half the plot of the 2003 movie. But if that earlier Haunted Mansion took liberties with the source material, 2023’s film is almost slavish to the ride’s lore. The plot hinges on urban legend turned animatronic entity the Hatbox Ghost , as well as the effort to secure the mansion’s 1,000th ghost. The film references never-realized concept art , the ride’s original proposed story line , and the names of Imagineers. Like, a lot of Imagineers.
The Disney Parks are designed, manufactured, and decorated by Imagineers, a name that combines imagine with engineer to illustrate how the job is equal parts kooky creativity and practical science. The Imagineers are the namesakes of heroic Haunted Mansion characters like Harriet and Madame Leota. But they’re also the inspiration behind the film’s antagonist — satanic serial killer Alistair Crump. That’s weird, right? A giant corporation naming a fictional mass murderer after a former employee?
To understand how an Imagineer became the namesake of a Jared Leto–voiced skeleton man, you have to understand how long it took for the Haunted Mansion ride to become a reality. Walt Disney had conceived of a haunted-house attraction back in 1951, when the plan was to make a small theme park in Burbank. The haunted house wasn’t a part of Disneyland v1.0 in 1955, but space was made for it in 1963. Even then, the ride shell sat empty for nine years. Nobody could agree on what the ride was supposed to be.
Three generations of Imagineers, one World’s Fair, and one company founder’s death later, and the Haunted Mansion finally opened in August 1969. (The same weekend as the Tate-LaBianca murders, oddly enough.) Eighteen years of Imagineers worked on the Haunted Mansion, and they signed their work. Most references to them are in the prop graveyard outside the mansion, inscribed in all those gag tombstones. There are other references throughout the ride, however, and some of them trickled into the 2023 movie. Not all are the most thoughtful remembrances. Below are the Imagineer Easter eggs in 2023’s Haunted Mansion and the stories behind them.
Nobody could have foreseen what happened to Yale Gracey, namesake for the Haunted Mansion’s Master Gracey (played by J.R. Adduci in the 2023 film). Gracey and Rolly Crump were the two Imagineers in charge of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion project in the mid-’60s. While Crump focused on trippy objets d’art that would later get sidelined in a failed “Museum of the Weird” restaurant, Gracey devoted himself to incorporating the best of 19th-century magician tricks into the ride. He worked tirelessly on the Pepper’s Ghost effects (an elaborate set of optical illusions that make ghosts appear and disappear before guests’ eyes), figured out how to use projectors to create Madame Leota (the talking, floating head in a crystal ball) and the singing busts , and there’s a tombstone dedicated to him in the graveyard. It reads “Master Gracey, Laid to Rest, No Mourning at His Request, FAREWELL.” This gag tribute took on a different tenor after Gracey was murdered in 1983 , shot in his sleep inside his cabana at the Bel Air Bay Club. His murder remains unsolved to this day. Which is why it feels a little odd for a Master Gracey character to be tricked into suicide not once but twice in Haunted Mansion movies.
Perhaps even odder than the legend of Master Gracey is the 2023 Haunted Mansion ’s treatment of Imagineer Rolly Crump. In the film, a man named Alistair Crump (Jared Leto) is behind all the hauntings and mysterious deaths. He killed party guests and servants alike in his own mansion, Crump Manor, until the staff revolted and chopped his head off. Crump’s ghost shows up in Master Gracey’s mansion after Leota accidentally summons him. He convinces Gracey to kill himself and becomes responsible for 66 deaths in Gracey’s mansion. He couldn’t be farther from his namesake, Rolly Crump. Rolly was an Imagineer whose most controversial opinion was that it was important to “ Keep Disneyland Weird .” He helped design the façade of It’s a Small World, devised the spooky clock in the Haunted Mansion, and drew sexy dames and pro-marijuana posters in his spare time. He died earlier this year, so presumably someone asked his permission to be remembered in this movie as a malevolent, murderous spirit.
The Haunted Mansion’s ghostly fortune teller was named after Imagineer Leota Toombs before the ride was even finished. Toombs first worked in Disney’s Ink and Paint department, where she met her husband, Harvey Toombs. After having two children, she began working in Imagineering in 1962, contributing to attractions Disney made for the 1964 World’s Fair. This was when Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump were the point men on the Haunted Mansion. Gracey asked Leota to pose for the crystal-ball effect because, in her words , “my eyes were the right distance apart to fit the test model.” To this day, her face is projected on the fortune teller’s ball with Cinderella voice actress Eleanor Audley reading the character’s lines. Jamie Lee Curtis performs both duties in the 2023 film.
Tiffany Haddish’s character Harriet shares a first name with Harriet Burns, the girlboss of Imagineering. She was the first woman hired by Walt Disney Imagineering and had to contend with the company’s boys’-club mentality in the ’50s. She made miniatures of rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion as well as Disneyland’s private club, Club 33. Fun fact: Burns based Pirates of the Caribbean’s Dirty Foot Pirate on her milkman, who had weirdly hairy legs. Did she regret that choice when she had to place each leg hair individually on a robot’s leg? Who’s to say.
Danny DeVito’s character Bruce Davis is likely a nod to Marc Davis, one of the last Imagineers to midwife the Haunted Mansion to completion. Davis butted heads with Claude Coates, who wanted the Mansion to be scary as shit. Marc Davis, on the other hand, wanted the Mansion to play host to his pun-inspired vignettes. The duo compromised with Coates overseeing more of the ride’s spooky beginning and Davis bringing the wacky to the back half. Davis managed to sneak in ghosts that were puns on “ Mum’s the word ,” “I t’s not over till the fat lady sings ,” and “ Great Caesar’s Ghost .” He was a goofy-ass man, and it’s only right his character is portrayed by goofy-ass DeVito.
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EVERY Ghost In Disney’s Haunted Mansion And Their Story
For well over 60 years, The Haunted Mansion has been one of Disney’s most beloved — and studied — attractions. Many of us have long been fascinated with the backstories of the “Grim Grinning Ghosts” featured in the ride.
You’re in luck. We’ve assembled a complete guide to nearly every one of the major happy haunts who appear in the iconic attraction .
Haunted Mansion Ghosts
Arguably the most developed character on the attraction who utters the famous “Welcome, foolish mortals” line, the Ghost Host serves as the Haunted Mansion’s narrator. That’s of course in addition to his hanging corpse appearing in the stretching room, arguably the singular most iconic visual in the attraction.
Victor Geist is the cape and top hat-wearing pianist who played the grand piano located in the Mansion’s grand hall.
Constance Hatchaway is the murderous bride who inhabits the Haunted Mansion’s attic, wielding her hatchet and waiting for another groom she can marry and then, well, separate their head from their body.
The tallest of the three hitchhiking ghosts, who lives his afterlife as a vagabond.
Professor Phineas Plump
The most rotund of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts, Phineas was a snake oil salesman who “traveled the country hocking snake oil at train depots. He crossed over to the spirit realm while experimenting with a new miracle concoction and still keeps his trusty carpet bag by his side, eager to make another sale.”
The third and shortest of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts, Gus was a prisoner who “committed no crimes” in life, but was still cursed to wear a ball and chain in death.
One of the singing busts who serenades guests with “Grim Grinning Ghosts” in the graveyard, Rolo Rumkin’s name is a tribute to legendary Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump.
Uncle Theodore is another of the busts in the Haunted Mansion graveyard, with vocals and performance provided by Thurl Ravenscroft. His bust is notably the only broken one of the group, a story choice that developed as a way to fix a technical issue with the footage of Ravesncroft.
Another of the singing busts, Cousin Algernon is recognizable as he’s the only of the busts to be wearing a hat.
The fourth singing bust, Ned Nub’s vocal and projected acting performance is provided by Jay Meyer.
The fifth of the singing busts, Pock is notable for having a tombstone that reads “Here Lies Phineas Pock. Laid to Rest Beneath this Rock” outside the Disneyland version of the attraction. A character of the same name appeared on a Haunted Mansion radio ad voiced by Paul Frees.
The iconic Hatbox Ghost was long been an urban legend amongst Disney fans, as the original animatronic was removed from the Mansion’s attic scene very shortly after opening. After decades of rumor, a new version of the figure was added back into the Disneyland version of the attraction in 2015. A backstory for the character has never been confirmed, though many speculate that he is either one of Constance’s victims or her accomplice. Given the casting of Jared Leto in the upcoming film, it’s likely that the character will be getting a backstory pretty soon.
Madame Leota – AKA the floating head in the crystal ball — is one of the most recognizable and merchandised Haunted Mansion characters. Leota has had several backstories, with the Disneyland version having been a medium who performed seances, brewed potions, and cast magic spells while the Walt Disney World version presents her as a witch who served the infamous Salem Witch Trials. In addition, the Memento Mori gift shop is themed to have been her home during corporeal life.
Graves/Busts in the Haunted Mansion Cemetery
Captain culpepper clyne.
Captain Clyne is a sea captain whose tub-shaped crypt sits outside the Walt Disney World version of Haunted Mansion, with an inscription that proclaims he “braved the seas and all her wrath, but drowned on land while taking a bath.” The character is loosely based on the painting of The Mariner that has long hung in the Mansion, which itself was based loosely on the character of Captain Gore, a holdover from Ken Anderson’s original blue sky version of the attraction known as Bloodmere Manor.
Master Gracey, named after Imagineer Yale Gracey, is one of the best known names amongst Haunted Mansion characters thanks to a tombstone outside the attraction which reads “Master Gracey laid to rest. No mourning please at his request.” While fan speculation — and the 2003 film — name Gracey as the master of the house, it’s never been canonically established in the attraction.
The patriarch of the Dread family, whose poisoning at the hands of Bertie led to the deaths of the whole family. His epitaph reads, “Greed was the poison he had swallowed. He went first, the others followed.”
Bertie Dread is one of the members of the Dread family whose tombstones are located in the crypts outside the Magic Kingdom Mansion. Big game hunter Bertie was shot to death by Florence Dread in retaliation for his use of venom from his prized snake — which is featured on his tombstone — to poison her husband Jacob Dread.
Florence Dread, whose epitaph read that she “Never did a dishonorable deed, yet found face down in canary seed” was the matriarch of the Dread family. She murdered Bertie in relation for his murder of her husband, Jacob. Florence herself was killed by the young twins Wellington and Forsythia Dread .
Wellington and Forsythia Dread are the young twins of the Dread family who murdered Florence Dread in order to steal her inheritance. However, they themselves would be murdered by Cousin Maude.
The final surviving member of the Dread family, Cousin Maude murdered the twins with a hammer in order to acquire the inheritance of every one of her deceased family members. She herself would perish when her home burned down — due to the matches she used as hair-pins. Maude is notable for being the only Dread family member to appear inside the Mansion, as a painting of her surrounded by flames is seen in Phineas’s bag during the Hitchhiking Ghost scene.
The epitaph for Francis Xavier reads, “Requiescat Francis Xavier. No time off for good behavior “R.I.P.” which is a tribute to Xavier “X” Atencio who wrote the script for the Haunted Mansion, and the lyrics for “Grim Grinning Ghosts.”
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So, which of these Haunted Mansion spirits is your favorite? Let us known the comments below.
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3 Replies to “EVERY Ghost In Disney’s Haunted Mansion And Their Story”
I’ve been listening to the original recording of the Haunted Mansion since I was very little. I was born in 1969 so it’s close to my heart. Even though I have tattoos of Madame Leota and the Hat Box Ghost, I have to say the Ghost Host is my favorite. The voice will forever be imbedded in my fondest memories. Still to this day, I play the original story for all the neighborhood kids every Halloween.
I love them all, but always in awe at Madame Leota and the Hat Box Ghost. Another favorite is the little ghost above you as you area almost to the end that talks and says “come back, come back”. What is her story?
Hi Janelle! Fun fact, the little ghost (or as we like to call her “Little Leota”) over the exit that says “Hurry back” is Leota Toombs, who was a Disney Imagineer. It’s her face they used for Madame Leota in the seance room, but because her voice was a bit higher they chose to use Eleanor Audley’s voice (who also provided the voices for Lady Tremaine in Cinderella and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, but it’s Leota Toomb’s real voice that you hear from Little Leota. 🙂
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A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts. A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts. A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest and a historian to help exorcise her newly bought mansion after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts.
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- 344 User reviews
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- Ben Matthias
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- Madame Leota
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- Trivia Gracey Manor is modeled after the original Disneyland Haunted Mansion. Crump Manor is modeled after Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.
- Goofs Later on in the movie, a secret seance room is discovered via blueprints and the room has a domed skylight. The same domed skylight is visible in the backyard, even more so when Ben talks to Travis in the backyard.
Gabbie : I know this place isn't as warm as I hoped. But I'm gonna light a vanilla candle, and it's gonna be a game-changer.
Gabbie : Yeah, we gone
- Crazy credits The Disney's 100th anniversary logo had several variations for that film; in the trailer, the logo was set at night, with the moon above, and is lit up in purple and blue lights. Meanwhile in the actual film, the logo is brighter than usual and is desaturated.
- Connections Featured in AniMat's Crazy Cartoon Cast: The HARDCORE Powerpuff Girls (2020)
- Soundtracks His Soul Left Gloss on the Rose Written and Produced by Kris Bowers , Erion Brandon Williams (as Brandon Williams), Derrick James Moss (as Derrick Moss), Paul Michael Robertson (as Paul Robertson), Julian Omari Gosin (as Julian Gosin), Manuel Perkins , Corey Donovan Peyton (as Corey Peyton), Lumar Christopher Leblanc II (as Lumar LeBlanc III), and Marcus Otis Hubbard (as Marcus Hubbard) Performed by The Soul Rebels
User reviews 344
- Jul 28, 2023
Reboots & Remakes
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- July 28, 2023 (United States)
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- $150,000,000 (estimated)
- Jul 30, 2023
- Runtime 2 hours 3 minutes
- Dolby Surround 7.1
- Dolby Digital
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- 12-Track Digital Sound
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“Haunted Mansion” VFX Supervisor Edwin Rivera Gives These New Ghosts a Spectral Charge
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The spirits have materialized for Disney’s latest comedy adventure Haunted Mansion . Everyone’s favorite spectral residents, from the hatchet-wielding Bride to the Hatbox Ghost, are coming out of their coffins for a swinging good time. The film fleshes out the skeletal stories of the spooky spirits who haunt Disney theme parks around the world. VFX Supervisor Edwin Rivera, who hails from visual effects studio DNEG, cast the classic characters in a new light.
“One of the things we added to our ghosts is this thing we called ‘ectoplasmic effervescence’ —it’s a mouthful,” he laughed. “We were trying to mimic bioluminescent algae. If you’re not disturbing it, they don’t light up, but as you move your hand through them, they start to light up. Our ghosts have the same thing. As they move through their ghostly realms, they started to give off these particles that lit up very much like bioluminescence.”
There’s an authenticity to the scares that adds chills to the atmosphere. Tangible creations laid the foundation for the ethereal. “Justin Simien, our director, very much wanted to keep the movie grounded,” Rivera said. “He wanted real sets. He wanted real actors dressed up as ghosts walking around so that it feels real. There’s a feeling that The Shining or The Ring has that maybe some other movies don’t because there’s this creepy person in the room coming at you. It started from that point, then that gave us the basis of we want to make it feel real like you’re actually there. This is something that, as fantastical as it seems, it at least visually looks like it’s actually happening.”
Turning human actors into tortured souls was an intensive process. Footage was layered together to capture real performances before transforming them into translucent beings floating through the mansion.
“We would scan their bodies, so we had a CG model,” Rivera explained. “We track that model to their bodies, and that would give us the opportunity to be able to generate the bioluminescent particles. We knew exactly where their body was at any given moment, so then we could create the CG skeleton underneath that was revealed in those transparent spots. We also made sure that we shot clean passes of every scene without any of the actors. Every single time. We had what was behind the actor; then we could reveal that through the empty spots in their body on the face or legs or whatnot.”
Despite being long dead, these ghosts are simply glowing and boast familiar – yet updated – designs. The textures are spectacularly creepy. Rivera’s team made excellent use of dim and deteriorating details to give the spirits depth.
“Adding a transparency to the shadow areas where you can see that they’re see-through and there’s skeletal structure underneath that’s creepy and decrepit,” Rivera added. “All those little elements were used to enhance what was already there without being distracting.”
The ride employs some impressive optical illusions that originally debuted in 1969, but a mix of practical effects and modern technology sends the images soaring for the film. Perhaps the most famous gag from the attraction is the medium Madame Leota (Jamie Lee Curtis). Rather than gazing into a crystal ball, she floats inside one. Rivera’s crew was committed to finding the right technique to channel her.
“Early on, we talked about maybe having somebody’s head actually in the ball in the middle of a table,” he recalled. “I think there’s a romantic quality to practical effects, right? Very quickly, we found that that was impractical, so we completely scanned Jamie Lee Curtis’ head. She’s a completely CG character. We did a full motion capture scan of her as she’s delivering her lines because then you get all the subtle little eye twitches and facial movements that are specific to her and make you recognize her as her, and then added CG hair and CG lighting for the CG environment that she’s in. She’s completely CG, but all of her acting is as she delivered it when we captured it.”
Perhaps the most recognizable portraits in the mansion are the four unfortunate souls who are hiding deadly surprises just out of frame. As the doorless chamber stretches, their hazards are revealed. Ben (LaKeith Stanfield) and Travis (Chase Dillon) soon find that the deathtraps aren’t satisfied to stay on the canvas.
“It started off as something very simple, just the stretching room that had the element of danger just because it’s inherently dangerous to be that high up. As we went along, the thinking was we kind of have to kick this up a notch,” Rivera revealed. “The request was maybe we have these different zones mimic the different things that are happening in the paintings. We have alligators, we have dynamite to mask the guy in boxer shorts, and we have these gnarly tombstones coming through and the quicksand. All those different things correlate to the paintings and add the danger and crank up the incentive for these characters to escape through the roof.”
While the chamber stretches up, the hallway stretches out. A normal passageway by day, the characters are stuck in an endless corridor after midnight.
“DNEG did a great job creating all the interiors,” Rivera praised. “The endless hallway was only twenty feet long, and they had to make it look like it was miles long. We only built the first floor. One of the more iconic rooms is the dining room. We built the first floor, so anything above that in all the different directions, that was all DNEG.”
While the most chilling frights lay inside, the stately manor’s architecture was enhanced by Rivera’s team. “Anytime you see the exterior of the house, that’s 90 percent CG because we only built the first floor – the porch pretty much and the staircase. Anything above and beyond that is completely CG. Anytime you ever see anything of the house from the outside, that’s 90 percent CG. The idea is for you to take it for granted.”
The mansion truly earns its frightful reputation. From disembodied footprints to the eyes of statues following you, everywhere you look, you will spot evidence of hauntings. The film features a detail from the ride in nearly every shot. All the references are impossible to take in on first viewing, and some are craftily hidden in the background.
“I think it’s important to have the things that no one notices because it creates the backdrop and the feeling of the scene, but not the focus,” Rivera noted. “This is the mood, this is the room, but then there’s an actor there. You don’t want to take away from them. You want to be respectful of them. When you don’t notice it, I think that’s a win for VFX.”
The happy haunts of Haunted Mansion are now materializing at a theater near you.
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Featured image: Lindsay Lamb as The Bride in Disney’s HAUNTED MANSION. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelle has written about film and TV for The Credits since 2016. Follow her on Twitter @molaitdc for interviews with really cool film and TV artists and only occasional outbursts about Broadway, tennis, and country music. Please no talking or texting during the movie. Unless it is a musical, then sing along loudly.
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Haunted Mansion director teases Jared Leto's 'menacing and terrifying' Hatbox Ghost
Justin Simien exclusively previews the Oscar-winning actor's take on a fan-favorite character from the beloved Disneyland ride for the new Haunted Mansion movie.
Entertainment Weekly's Oscars expert, 'RuPaul's Drag Race' beat reporter, host of 'Quick Drag' Twitter Spaces, and cohost of 'EW's BINGE' podcast. Almost all of the drag content on this site is my fault (you're welcome).
From "Boof!" to "Boo!" Jared Leto is still startling audiences with his transformative performances/ The director behind Haunted Mansion , the Oscar-winning star's latest acting opus, says fans will be appropriately blown away by his creepy work.
"It's very surprising. You'd be shocked to know who it was until you're told," filmmaker Justin Simien — creator of Dear White People — exclusively tells EW of Leto's metamorphosis into the Hatbox Ghost, a fan-favorite character lifted directly from the Disneyland ride upon which the upcoming family horror film is based.
"The character itself, it's part digital, part physical performance. We're trying to go for something scary that feels like it could exist physically in the real world, on the ride, but pushes the scare a lot further than the ride does. He knocked it out of the park. He's very menacing and terrifying."
The Hatbox Ghost who appears in the ride has a complicated history. The character served as an original animatronic inside the California version of the attraction that opened in 1969. It then quickly became a popular addition to the experience, thanks to a special effect that made it appear as if the happy haunt's head disappeared from his shoulders and sprung up inside a box in his hand. He was temporarily removed from the ride, only to return in 2015. Disney World in Florida later announced that the Orlando iteration of the ride would also receive a Hatbox Ghost at some point in the future.
Before that, though, Simien's film will see the Hatbox Ghost stalk the halls of the titular abode. He can be seen using his signature cane to creep through the mansion, where a single mother ( Rosario Dawson ) and her young son enlist the help of a team of spiritual specialists ( LaKeith Stanfield , Owen Wilson , Tiffany Haddish , as well as Jamie Lee Curtis as the iconic Madame Leota) to rid their New Orleans home of ghosts. Along the way, they encounter several scenes meticulously modeled after the rides. Those include the stretching room, the "Ghost Host," and the legendary "Grim Grinning Ghosts" tune interpolated throughout the film's score, Simien says.
"We got down to the point where we were obsessing over the angle you first see the mansion when you walk onto the ride in Disneyland, when we see it through the gates and we see the pillars," he explains. "That angle has to hit. That's how specific we were. When you first glide through the dining hall and you see the waltzing dancers, that angle had to be right, because that's the one where you gasp on the ride."
When asked about Leto's widely known brand of Method acting, Simien says the 51-year-old didn't inhabit the character the entire time on set. The actor was, however, convincing enough to send a chill down Simien's spine, anyway.
"When I was with him [filming], yeah, he was full-on Hatbox Ghost. A lot of that is voice performance, a lot of that is voice capture. It's a little bit of a different animal," Simien explains, "but it gave us time to craft it and gave us quiet moments between the performance."
Haunted Mansion opens July 28 in theaters.
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'Haunted Mansion': Trailer, Release Date, Cast, and What to Expect
When will we see 999 happy haunts grace the big screen?
What is the release date for haunted mansion, watch the trailer for haunted mansion, what is the plot of haunted mansion, who is making haunted mansion, who's starring in haunted mansion.
The Walt Disney Company has become no stranger to adapting its original attractions into feature films. Certainly, the most well-known and successful example is the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which had a grand total of five films and created a modern pop culture icon with Captain Jack Sparrow. Since then, Disney has always been looking to make their theme park attractions into feature films, with examples including The Country Bears (2002), Tomorrowland (2015), and Jungle Cruise (2021). It's a concept that's showing no signs of stopping, with Hawkeye (2021) directors Bert & Bertie set to helm a film based on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The one ride at Walt Disney parks that should be a no-brainer to adapt though is the Haunted Mansion . With its iconic visuals and surprisingly deep lore, it should be the perfect candidate for a feature film, and Disney did try to capitalize on the popular attraction nearly two decades ago with 2003's The Haunted Mansion , starring Eddie Murphy . With a comedian like Murphy in the lead role, you could probably imagine that his take on the ride was very comedic. Now it's true that the ride has always had a very on-the-nose sense of humor, but the film adaptation lacked the creepy charm of the ride and leaned too heavily on the jokes, not to mention iconic characters like the Hat Box Ghost and the Black Widow Bride were nowhere to be found.
Director Justin Simien , the filmmaker behind Dear White People (2014) and a former Disneyland cast member, looks to make his own cinematic adaption of the beloved attraction, complete with a prestigious number of creatives and an absolutely star-studded cast on board. From what was shown at their presence at 2022's D23 Expo, it's looking to be an incredibly promising adventure-horror hybrid. To get the scoop on the information that was shared at D23 behind closed doors as well as everything else we know so far, simply continue to read below.
Editor's Note: This article was last updated on July 23.
The spirits of the Haunted Mansion are set to receive your sympathetic vibrations on July 28, 2023 . The movie was originally scheduled to release on March 10, 2023, then moved to August 11, 2023, and finally brought up to its present date. Tickets for the movie are now on sale so grab yours as soon as you can!
Related: First 'Haunted Mansion' Reactions Call it "Fun," "Spooky," "Full of Easter Eggs"
Fans of the legendary attraction were treated to the first public look at Haunted Mansion when the spooky teaser trailer premiered on March 2nd . The footage opens up with the character of Gabbie ( Rosario Dawson ) and her young son Travis ( Chase W. Dillon ) as they enter their new home which of course is the titular Haunted Mansion. It doesn't take long for them to realize that the home is infested with restless ghouls, leading to them contacting an ambitious priest ( Owen Wilson ), a down-on-his-luck tour guide (LaKeith Stanfield), and a wise medium ( Tiffany Haddish ) to uncover the mystery behind the unsettling abode. Also seen in the trailer are some recognizable ghosts from the ride, such as the Black Widow Bride and the Hat Box Ghost ( Jared Leto ).
We also got an extended look at the film when Justin Simien took the stage at the Disney & Pixar Studio Showcase at D23, he premiered an extended trailer introducing the characters and world of this new version of Haunted Mansion . Unfortunately for those who weren't able to attend the showcase, the footage was exclusive to the panel and hasn't been released online. Thankfully Collider's own Therese Lacson was in attendance and wrote an in-depth description of the footage reveal which you can check out by clicking here. To give a brief summary, the trailer opens by introducing the main characters of Ben, Kent, Gabbie, and Harriet, as they explore the mysterious mansion and eventually find a room that resembles that of the one that Madame Leotta resides in, otherwise known as the sorceress head trapped inside a crystal ball. The rest of the trailer shows more creepy ghost-like imagery and introduces even more wacky characters like an eccentric college professor ( Danny DeVito ).
More recently, we got a new teaser for Haunted Mansion on June 8 that shows LaKeith Stanfield's Ben being introduced to the mansion, then moving on to scenes of various guests being spooked out by the mansion's ghostly residents.
A behind-the-scenes featurette was released online by Disney on June 23, 2023. The spot features Justin Simien and the cast talking about making the movie and paying tribute to the popular ride that inspired it. The trailer also revealed a new look at the Hat-Box Ghost. On June 28, Disney released a new teaser for Haunted Mansion to announce that the tickets are on sale. It also provides some more deliciously scary footage of the Hat-Box Ghost and you can see it in the player below:
Since tickets went on sale, Disney has released a steady stream of clips from Haunted Mansion and we also got a behind-the-scenes featurette featuring the director and cast. See it below:
A new trailer for Haunted Mansion was released on July 18, with a narration from Gabby that unfolds the spookiness of moving into the mansion. It then moves on to show us more of the cast, including a new look at the Hat-Box Ghost. Here it is:
Plot details are pretty thin and the trailer didn't do much to elaborate further on the general plot, but an official synopsis shed a bit more light on the film's story:
"A single mom named Gabbie hires a tour guide, a psychic, a priest, and a historian to help exorcise their newly bought mansion; after discovering it is inhabited by ghosts."
We already know that Gabbie will be played by Rosario Dawson ( Ahsoka ), LaKeith Stanfield's ( Sorry to Bother You ) Ben will be the tour guide and Owen Wilson's ( Loki ) Kent will be the priest, and we assume that Tiffany Haddish's Harriet is the psychic and Danny DeVito's unnamed professor is the historian.
As for the ghosts who are set to appear, we do know that the Hatbox Ghost will almost certainly be appearing. An infamous part of the attraction that only returned to the ride somewhat recently, Hatbox Ghost was heavily implied at the event to be played by Jared Leto ( Morbius ). We also know that the Bride will also be a part of the film, and she is a character that has quite the backstory. Most of the "happy haunts" in the Haunted Mansion are just that; happy. They might give people a good scare sometimes, but overall they're not malicious or cruel...except the Bride. Originally named Constance Hatchaway, it's heavily insinuated that she killed her husband (or husbands) and now stalks the mansion looking for her next victim. Both these infamous ghosts would be excellent choices for the main villain.
Related: The Hatbox Ghost Welcomes Foolish Mortals With SDCC Exclusive 'Haunted Mansion' Poster [Exclusive]
Initially, horror and practical effects legend and the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind The Shape of Water (2017), Guillermo Del Toro . Like many of Del Toro's projects, this one just wasn't meant to be for the accomplished writer/director, but Justin Simien is a worthy replacement. Simien has made a name for himself as one of the biggest rising stars in storytelling today, being involved with both the hugely successful 2014 Dear White People film and the critically acclaimed Netflix series of the same name. Simien is also set to have a long history with Disney, as he's also become attached to the upcoming Lando series.
Even though he's no longer directing the project, Del Toro is still credited with writing the screenplay for the film along with D. V. DeVincentis ( High Fidelity ) and Katie Dippold ( The Heat ) also co-writing. This is good news for those wishing for Del Toro's directorial vision of the film as this likely means many of his ideas will make their way into the film. Del Toro will also be involved as executive producer as well. The rest of the ghostly crew consists of composer Kris Bowers ( King Richard ), cinematographer Jeffery Waldron ( Little Fires Everywhere ), editor Phillip J. Bartell ( Bad Hair ), production designer Darren Gilford ( TRON: Legacy ), and costume designer Jeffery Kurland ( Collateral ).
We've already mentioned most of the major leading characters set to appear, including LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Tiffany Haddish, and Jared Leto. Leto, who again is most likely playing the Hat Box Ghost, was one of many new casting revelations revealed at D23. The remaining cast members include Winona Ryder ( Beetlejuice ), Dan Levy ( Schitt's Creek ), Hasan Minhaj ( The Daily Show ) as a sketch artist, and finally, Jamie Lee Curtis ( Halloween Ends ), who made a grand entrance at the Studio Showcase in her very own "Doom Buggy". Curtis will be playing Madame Leota.
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Haunted Mansion trailer has ghosts, ghouls, and also Danny DeVito
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Remember the 2003 Haunted Mansion movie starring Eddie Murphy? No? Well, that’s probably for the best, because despite the compelling setup, it was completely forgettable (and also spoiled the entire dang story in the opening montage).
Luckily, one of the most popular Disney theme park attractions is getting a second shot at the big screen. A new Haunted Mansion movie is on the way, this time leaning way more on the iconic ghosts and moments from the ride. The first teaser reveals some little nods that park enthusiasts will revel in. The stretching room! The Hatbox Ghost (played by Jared Leto here)! The bride in the attic!
Haunted Mansio n stars Lakeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon, Dany Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jared Leto. It follows a woman and her son who move into the tititular haunted mansion and employ a ragtag group of paranormal investigators to help de-haunt the house.
Haunted Mansion will hit theaters on July 28. If you’re itching for some spoopy adventure before then, check out Muppet Haunted Mansion (instead of the Eddie Murphy movie).
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Disney World's Haunted Mansion Is Getting Ready To Add A New Ghost, But I Have A Big Problem With It
A new "happy haunt" is coming to Disney World's Haunted Mansion, but something about it makes no sense.
The Haunted Mansion movie opened in theaters on Friday and the Disney synergy machine did not miss a beat by taking the opportunity to remind fans of an upcoming Disney World attraction change, that the Hatbox Ghost, a character that is currently only visible at Disneyland’s version of the ride, will be debuting at Walt Disney World 's Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion later this year. It was a popular decision when it was first announced, but now that more details have been announced I’m having issues. Because the ghost’s location makes no sense.
The announcement from Disney Parks made on Friday revealed that the Hatbox Ghost will be located in a different spot at Magic Kingdom than he is at Disneyland. At the California park, the character can be found just outside the mansion’s attic, before the ride vehicles descend into the graveyard. At Disney World, however, we’ll find the Hatbox Ghost near the Endless Hallway at the beginning of the attraction. This is a problem, because the Haunted Mansion’s story, specifically explains when you can and can’t see ghosts, and the Endless Hallway is too early.
At the beginning of the Haunted Mansion, we see things that are spooky and unexplained, a suit of armor that moves, and a candelabra floating in an endless hallway, but we don’t actually see any ghosts. It’s Madame Leota’s seance and our own “sympathetic vibrations” that allow them to materialize. So putting the Hatbox Ghost prior to the seance room simply doesn’t work with the story being told.
The History Of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion
There are a lot of people who get very upset whenever anything changes at Disneyland or Disney World, just ask Splash Mountain fans , and I’m usually not that guy. I think Disney Park changes are almost always good . The recent decision to drastically increase alcohol sales at Disneyland doesn’t bother me despite the fact that Walt Disney never wanted alcohol sold in the park. Things change, and that’s ok, but making this change that conflicts with the story the attraction is telling makes no sense, especially since there are plenty of places the Hatbox Ghost could go that would work properly.
It’s certainly possible that the Hatbox Ghost’s location will be explained. Perhaps putting the ghost there is part of larger changes to the story of the ride, which could be connected to the release of the Haunted Mansion movie, where the ghost is the film’s primary villain. Still, it doesn’t seem likely that the attraction is going to incorporate aspects of the movie this soon. While that certainly could happen, as it did with Pirates of the Caribbean , we don’t even know how successful the movie will be.
An exact date for the Hatbox Ghost addition was not made, but it will apparently be done as a running change. Rather than shutting down the ride, guests will see temporary barriers going up on the attraction very soon where the Hatbox Ghost will be located
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.
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NEW Hatbox Ghost Details Announced for the Haunted Mansion in Disney World
By Kelly Oliveros 6 Comments
Something NEW is coming to the Haunted Mansion in Disney World and now we’ve got more details about it!
The Haunted Mansion
Back in September of 2022, Disney announced that the ICONIC Hatbox Ghost would be making his way over to Disney World’s version of the Haunted Mansion ride . Since then, we’ve been waiting for more details…and now we FINALLY have some!
Disney has shared that later this year, the Hatbox Ghost will pop up in the Haunted Mansion, specifically as guests pass the Endless Hallway.
Disney notes, “The Hatbox Ghost will appear to guests as they pass the Endless Hallway , welcoming himself inside from the swinging wake in the cemetery and grinning at the Doom Buggies as they set off deeper in.”
We knew that the Hatbox Ghost would be appearing in the ride in 2023, but Disney hadn’t previously shared his exact location. What’s interesting is that the Hatbox Ghost’s location in Disney World will differ greatly from his location in Disneyland . In Disneyland, you’ll find him at the end of the attic scene, while in Disney World he will (as we noted above) be located in the Endless Hallway (where you typically see the floating candelabra).
Hatbox Ghost at Disneyland
Be aware that you’ll see some changes in the Haunted Mansion as this new addition takes its place. Specifically, Disney has said that guests will soon see “temporary barriers materialize” as we wait for the Hatbox Ghost to arrive.
We had previously shared that the Haunted Mansion will temporarily CLOSE from August 7th through August 9th, 2023, but Disney has not indicated whether this is at all related to preparation for the Hatbox Ghost’s arrival. Thus far, we only know that he’ll fully materialize within the ride “later this year.”
Hatbox Ghost in Disneyland
For those not familiar with the Hatbox Ghost, as D23 explains, the character was originally part of the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland when it opened in 1969. But he was almost immediately taken out when the illusion didn’t work correctly. The illusion here is meant to make it appear as if the Ghost’s head goes from his body to his hatbox.
The Ghost returned during Disneyland Diamond Celebration in May of 2015, and now years later he’ll finally arrive at Disney World.
Disneyland Hatbox Ghost
Looking for more Haunted Mansion fun? Disney has announced that for a limited time those who visit Disneyland Park can go to the Opera House inside The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln to “ see a collection of concept art, props and costumes from the ‘Haunted Mansion,’ including the ornate dress worn by Madame Leota (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) in the film.”
A similar display of costumes and props from the live-action movie is set to come to Disney World soon as well. It’ll be located in the Walt Disney Presents Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
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We’re on the lookout for more details about the Hatbox Ghost, the Haunted Mansion movie, and more — so stay tuned!
Click here to see what new Haunted Mansion treats have arrived in Disney World!
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July 28, 2023 at 11:33 am
I’m actually not happy about the placement of Hatbox here. It doesn’t make sense, since it’s before the seance, which is what causes the ghosts and spirits to become visible.
July 28, 2023 at 4:12 pm
I don’t know about this. I’m looking forward to seeing the Hatbox Ghost in Disney World, but the way the ride is currently set up you don’t actually see any ghosts until Madam Leota calls them up during the seance. Putting the Hatbox Ghost in the hall would mess up the plot point. Am I being to finicky?
July 29, 2023 at 3:02 pm
Whereas the ride extends to a building behind the mansion, is there anything in the mansion itself, above the entrance floor? Just curious.
July 29, 2023 at 5:59 pm
The Hat Box Ghost should be placed on the balcony after the bride when we fall off the roof (turn backwards) this is the only place that makes sense.
July 30, 2023 at 5:52 pm
We aren’t supposed to be able to see they ghosts until after the seance with Madame Leota. (When they materialize) Imagineers have spoken extensively of this in the past, and the intentionality of this in the story telling. This feels like a lazy call IMO
July 30, 2023 at 7:45 pm
I have no quibbles with where they are putting him. I’m sure they thought long and hard about where it could be placed engineering wise. It’s still gonna be a great ride!
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Haunted Mansion Review
A ghost story with horror and soul.
Disney’s second crack at adapting its famous Haunted Mansion attraction into a cinematic experience fares much better than its Eddie Murphy-starring predecessor. In the hands of writer Katie Dippold and director Justin Simien, 2023’s Haunted Mansion is a soulful New Orleans ghost story that expertly speaks to younger audiences about death, grief's stranglehold, and the afterlife. Dippold finds a tender beating heart at the core of her screenplay without sacrificing the gateway horror ambitions of this PG-13 spookshow. Haunted Mansion successfully balances emotional sweetness and just-frightening-enough spectral scares with a Disneyfication of genre tropes, becoming a fun-filled scary movie for (almost) the entire family.
An eclectic ensemble – led by LaKeith Stanfield in the role of Louisiana tour guide Ben Matthias – squares off against the 999 spirits inhabiting single mother Gabbie’s (Rosario Dawson) new residence. Gabbie and her social-outcast son Travis (Chase Dillon) try to flee from the estate when they discover its paranormal infestation — they’re no fools. Dippold acknowledges how silly it’d be for a family to cohabitate with unpredictable entities and writes characters who hardly want to become Ghostbusters. Still, they have to because the film’s rules cleverly establish a logical reason that keeps everyone from a full-sprint exit. From Danny DeVito’s oddball college professor Bruce to Owen Wilson’s suspiciously chill Father Kent to Tiffany Haddish’s cost-effective medium Harriet, there’s no glaring weak link. Haunted Mansion is one of those comedies where everyone seemed to enjoy their time on set, which makes for a loosey-goosey cast playing off one another’s reactions to supernatural absurdity with easygoing chemistry.
As a film that handles tough conversations about a peaceful, even celebratory afterlife, Haunted Mansion does a tremendous job softening the blow of crushing mortality. Death can be a petrifying concept for any audience, let alone youngsters, but Haunted Mansion handles existential dread and immense grief with the fearlessness of a showstopper like Coco. In the context of storytelling (and without forcing beliefs down anyone’s throat), Dippold uses Ben’s broken heart as an entry point into discussions that blur the lines between “life” and “death” as we perceive. The themes of Haunted Mansion are comforting, like mouthfuls of spicy-savory jambalaya warming our hungry stomachs.
Surprisingly, Haunted Mansion is also scarier than expected for a production based on an all-ages theme-park ride. “Scary” compared to my initial presumption that expected padded-and-safe horror glimpses to please the Disney faithful who couldn’t handle Saturday the 14th, let alone the movies it spoofs. It’s not The Conjuring or Poltergeist, but an early bedroom scare involving a hatchet-swinging husband killer whose ghoulish figure disappears and reappears due to a flashlight’s beam earns the PG-13 rating. Simien uses Ben’s specially designed ghost-capturing camera like he’s in a level of Fatal Frame – Haunted Mansion takes its gateway-horror duties seriously.
What's the best gateway horror movie?
Watching the namesake attraction spring to life in Simien’s film is a joy, as everything from dining room dancers to the elongated entryway walls are translated to the screen. Visual effects by DNEG and Industrial Light & Magic dodge any complaints about modern reliance on dull computer graphics in movies, with colorful pinkish-greenish ghost realms and Aquafresh-blue ghosties — none more sinister than Jared Leto’s villainous Hatbox Ghost. Dippold reaches into Haunted Mansion lore and pulls out a menacing uber-spirit, a ride figurehead imbued by an unrecognizable Leto with cackling malice and textbook evil.
If there’s something to ding, the just-over-two-hour duration leaves room for less successful jokes that succumb to the inescapable (but thankfully infrequent) coddling inherent in a horror story told by Disney. Chase Dillon makes a mighty impression as afraid-of-his-shadow Travis, but his fatherless character’s interactions with parental stand-in Ben are also a bit ordinary by dramatic measures. There are corridors of mediocrity scattered throughout Haunted Mansion, whether that’s the alright-at-best disembodied head of Jamie Lee Curtis digitally trapped in a crystal ball or less compelling scenes set outside Gabbie’s haunted property. Between dozens of Easter eggs for seasoned Doom Buggy passengers, wonderfully wicked visuals, and a strong grasp on crowd-pleasing haunted-house mechanics, there’s no reason to leave the mansion for long stretches of the runtime — which becomes a brief frustration when that happens.
The first attempt at spinning a movie out of the Haunted Mansion was DOA, but Justin Simien finds new life in the premise. Gateway horror can be so fickle because it needs to impress viewers of all ages while gearing scares toward lower tolerances. Haunted Mansion does precisely this with a cast of characters battling their own existential demons in addition to the their grim, grinning roommates. Don’t worry, it’s still an enjoyable romp that makes for maximum moviegoing entertainment — the boldness of the storytelling and creepiness of haunted New Orleans architecture are welcome bonuses.
More Reviews by Matt Donato
Owen wilson on returning to ghost stories in haunted mansion & avoiding typecasting.
Owen Wilson discusses 1999's The Haunting, not being typecast, and his role as Father Kent in Disney’s upcoming Haunted Mansion adaptation.
- Disney's Haunted Mansion film is a new adaptation of the popular ride, following the previous unsuccessful attempt in 2002.
- The film has an impressive cast, including Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, and Tiffany Haddish.
- Owen Wilson plays Father Kent, a self-proclaimed paranormal expert who joins forces with others to battle the haunted mansion in New Orleans.
Disney is revisiting one of its most popular rides in Haunted Mansion , the new film directed by Justin Simien ( Dear White People ) and written by Katie Dippold ( The Heat, Parks and Recreation ). The film comes 20 years after the release of The Haunted Mansion , Disney’s first attempt at adapting its ride into a feature film, which starred the fantastic Eddie Murphy but unfortunately bombed at the box office. The new Haunted Mansion has an impressive cast that includes Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, and Tiffany Haddish.
Another key player is Haunted Mansion is Owen Wilson, who plays Father Kent. It’s something of a return to the paranormal for Wilson as well, as the actor previously starred in The Haunting (1999). Father Kent is a self-proclaimed paranormal expert, lending his services to those in need of help with antagonistic spirits--whether he will ultimately help or hurt their efforts remains to be seen.
Related: Haunted Mansion Can Give Owen Wilson Revenge On Ghosts 24 Years Later
Owen Wilson spoke with Screen Rant about Father Kent, not being typecast, and the odds of his character’s survival in Haunted Mansion. Note: This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike , and the movie being covered here wouldn't be possible without the work of writers and actors in both WGA and SAG-AFTRA.
Owen Wilson Talks Haunted Mansion
Screen Rant: We've seen the trailers, maybe we've seen some clips, [but] we don't know too much about this film. Is there anything you can say about your character?
Owen Wilson: Well, Rosario (Dawson) and her son [are] facing this haunted mansion, and they need to put together a team that's going to battle it and help them to overcome it. I'm sort of the first piece of the puzzle. Father Kent is a little bit of a salesman, he's there in New Orleans, [and] he sees a need that people have to deal with spirits. That's a city where people are facing those kinds of issues, and so that's what he does.
You mentioned Rosario; this cast is incredible, and there are a lot of really amazing actors and actresses in it. Was there anyone that you maybe hadn't met or worked with before that you were blown away by on set?
Owen Wilson: I had never worked with Danny DeVito, and so I was really excited. My friend Woody Harrelson loves Danny and knows him, so he sort of introduced us by email before, but it was just great to work with somebody who's done so many things that I admire. And then also, [Danny] still really seems to enjoy the process and always had good energy on set.
Looking back a little bit to 2002--you did a movie called I Spy Eddie Murphy a year before he did The Haunted Mansion . Did you, either then or more recently, talk about that film at all, and did that play any part in your decision to join this one?
Owen Wilson: Yeah, I wasn't aware that he did The Haunted Mansion after I Spy. I guess I'm walking in his footsteps in a way, but no, I didn't know about that.
And another retrospective: you also did The Haunting in '99. It didn't really go too great for your character. Is this kind of redemption in any way?
Owen Wilson: Yeah... The last time I was really in this kind of genre my character didn't make it through, and that’s always a little bit unnerving because there's something in us that wants to survive. I got a little bit further along in the story with this one. Did I make it to the end? You know, that's… I can't really say too much about that.
And like those films, you've done so many amazing things over the years. Zoolander , you've been in a bunch of Wes Anderson films, [and] I particularly love an appearance you did in a skateboard video 20 years ago. Do you have a secret to not being pigeonholed or typecast?
Owen Wilson: I don't know how I end up doing the things I do. [With] something like the skate video, it's funny that you mentioned that because I guess they're doing the 20-year anniversary, and so I was going to speak with [Spike Jonze] about that. That was just something [where] he called me up. I have no background in skateboarding other than having one as a kid, but learning all that dialogue was like Shakespeare. It was very daunting. I think it's just kind of lucky that I've done lots of different things.
And do you feel like your relationship with comedy and comedy filmmaking has changed over the years in any way? In terms, maybe, of what kind of scripts you're looking for these days, or [what makes something] exciting to you?
Owen Wilson: I wouldn't say that it's changed too much. It's still sort of, "Well, who's working on it?" and, "What's the character like?" and, "Do I feel that there's something that I could do a good job with?" I know the best feeling is when you work on something [where] you're really in sync with the other people, creatively, and that you have that kind of energy on set [where] you feel like you're coming up with ideas and doing stuff that's going to make it good; because, of course, when you're making something you want people to enjoy it and see it. It's great when that happens.
You have another Disney-world project coming up this year with Loki season 2. Of course, there's a lot of secrecy, but is there anything you can say about it?
Owen Wilson: I love playing the character of Mobius; that's one of my favorite characters that I've ever played. And, [I love] working with Tom (Hiddleston). I think there are some great new characters that are coming into this, and I think the character that Ke (Huy Quan) plays... I think people are going to really like that character. I know when my kids visited I wanted them to see that, because I felt like they were going to be into it.
About Haunted Mansion
Based on the Disney theme park ride of the same name, Haunted Mansion is a supernatural comedy that shares no elements with the prior films. Rosario Dawson stars as Gabbie, a single mother with a son looking to start over and happens upon a mansion that seems too good to be true in New Orleans - and her hunch proves correct. To resolve her ghostly problem, Gabbie seeks the help of a priest and a widowed paranormal expert, a psychic, and a historian to hopefully rid her home of unwanted guests.
Check out our other Haunted Mansion interviews here:
- Rosario Dawson & LaKeith Stanfield
- Tiffany Haddish & Jamie Lee Curtis
- Justin Simien
Haunted Mansion will be released in theaters on July 28.
Source: Screen Rant Plus
Key Release Dates
Disney’s ‘Haunted Mansion’: New Trailer Goes All-In on Jared Leto’s Hatbox Ghost (Video)
Happy haunts have materialized
Are you ready to enter the “Haunted Mansion?”
The live-action movie, based on the beloved Disney theme park attraction, is materializing on July 28. And thanks to a brand-new trailer, which you can watch above, we now know a little bit more about what goes on when hinges creak in doorless chambers and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls.
The new trailer gives a much better sense of the movie’s mixture of comedy and horror while also playing up its connections to the original attraction. You get the sense that much of the movie will be seen through the eyes of Ben (LaKeith Stanfield), a down-on-his-luck everyman who hosts ghost tours in New Orleans. He’s one of a group of paranormal experts called upon by a young single mother (Rosario Dawson) to try and rid her new home of 999 happy haunts. Among the others she calls upon are Tiffany Haddish’s psychic, Danny DeVito’s historian and Owen Wilson’s priest. If they can’t get rid of the ghosts, nobody can.
Among the nods to the original attraction, which opened at Disneyland in 1969 (after being teased for the better part of a decade) and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1971, are the killer bride in the attic, the dueling hosts firing shots at each other, the stretching room, the séance room (where Haddish holds court), Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota and, of course, the appearance of the Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto).
The Hatbox Ghost has a long history with Haunted Mansion lore. He appeared, briefly, after the attraction’s opening in 1969 and appeared on a lot of the merchandise and product tie-ins from that time. But when the effect that the Imagineers were going for, where his head would disappear and then reappear in the hatbox he was holding, didn’t work, the figure was quickly removed. Since then the character gained a cultlike following and in 2015, for the resort’s 60th anniversary, a new version of the figure was placed in the Haunted Mansion. He’ll also appear in Walt Disney World’s version of the attraction sometime this summer. (We’d bet he’ll be in place before “Haunted Mansion” opens.)
Perhaps the best shoutout of the attraction is the chair that Haddish is sitting in, which looks remarkably like the Omnimover ride vehicles (or Doom Buggies) that slowly creep through the Haunted Mansion. What a scream.
The attraction was adapted once before, in 2003, with Eddie Murphy and terrific make-up effects by Rick Baker — but the less said about that version, the better.
“Bad Hair” and “Dear White People” filmmaker Justin Simien (who was once a plucky Disneyland cast member) directs this new iteration from a script by Kate Dippold.
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Disney's Haunted Mansion: Trailer, Release Date, Cast, And Everything We Know About Them Theme Park-Based Movie
Your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you sense a disquieting metamorphosis. Is this movie actually coming out or is it your imagination?
By Kevin Wong on May 10, 2023 at 12:37PM PDT
The new Disney's Haunted Mansion movie is due out on July 28. Think of it as a redo; Disney made a first attempt at a Haunted Mansion franchise back in 2003, but it was both a critical and a commercial failure. Has the company learned its lesson from this prior misstep?
Disney has two distinct approaches to its big-budget, tentpole films. The first is to take classic animated films and convert them into live-action spectacles (or, in the case of The Lion King, a photorealistic animated spectacle). The quality of these films is wildly inconsistent and largely depends on whether the original material had room for improvement. That's why The Jungle Book adaptation was fantastic. And it's also why The Lion King adaptation was so bad.
The second approach is even less reliable than the first; it's to take Disney theme park rides or experiences, and expand them into full-length feature films. The quality of these films is also inconsistent; for every Oscar-nominated blockbuster like Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, we also get a movie like The Country Bears.
Here is everything we know so far about Disney's Haunted Mansion (2023).
When's the release date?
Haunted Mansion is set to open in theaters on July 28, 2023. The release date has changed two prior times. Disney first announced a debut on March 10 and then on August 11, before finally settling on July 28.
Who's in it?
The main character is Gabbie, played by Rosario Dawson. She is the mother of Travis (Chase Dillon), and the two of them move into the eponymous mansion, only to discover that it's haunted.
Gabbie finds a team of "experts" to exorcize the mansion; she contacts a priest (Owen Wilson), who then enlists a paranormal tour guide (LaKeith Stanfield), a psychic (Tiffany Haddish), and a historian (Danny DeVito).
The ghosts include Madame Leota (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the Hatbox Ghost (Jared Leto). Other notable actors include Dan Levy, Hasan Minhaj, and Winona Ryder. According to Disney, Haunted Mansion has an elaborate backstory and mythology on the level of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Who is the director?
The director is Justin Simien, the man behind Sundance breakout film Dear White People and the subsequent TV series on Netflix. Simien is also developing a Star Wars series about Lando Calrissian, which has yet to receive a release date.
The writer is Katie Dippold, who wrote comedy for Mad TV and Parks and Recreation. She and Paul Feig co-wrote the screenplay for the all-female Ghostbusters reboot in 2016.
Is there a trailer for the movie?
There is! You get a pretty good feel for the movie's tone--definitely scarier and more unsettling than the Eddie Murphy movie, but also tongue-in-cheek. Owen Wilson, who makes a handsome living by playing different versions of himself, seems perfectly cast; his laid-back, lackadaisical attitude is a perfect juxtaposition. Take a look at it below.
A theme park classic
Here's a little history lesson. The Haunted Mansion opened at Disneyland in 1969, and it was one of the last attractions that Walt Disney had direct creative control over before his death in 1966. It went through many iterations--first as a walkthrough exhibit and a museum of the weird. However, when it debuted, it was as a ride-through attraction in which guests rode in the clam-shaped "Doom Buggies" that we know today.
Some Imagineers wanted it to be scary. Other Imagineers wanted it to be fun. And because of their inability to compromise, the Haunted Mansion ended up being a bit of both. There is an eerie hallway of knocking doors and screaming voices in one part of the ride, and a massive cemetery party in another. There is the creepy and iconic "stretching room," in which the doorless room you're in appears to be stretching upward, ending with the reveal of a corpse hanging from the ceiling--which is undercut by a pun-loving ghost host that narrated the attraction. The stretching room is actually a cleverly-designed elevator that lowers you to the actual ride.
Today, the Mansion is considered a classic--a key part of theme park history and an eccentric exhibit of American ingenuity. It's filled to the brim with practical effects and optical illusions, many dating back to the 1800s.
Didn't we do this already?
Disney attempted a Haunted Mansion film back in 2003, which cast Eddie Murphy in the lead as a realtor, who moves his family into the mansion and becomes entangled in a ghost story of lost love. The movie was intended as a family-friendly horror comedy, but it flopped at the box office. The upcoming movie will be Disney's second attempt at a Haunted Mansion adaptation, and it is a reboot, with no connection to the first film.
Connections to the theme park ride
Based on the footage released so far, there are some clear connections to the original ride. The film is set in New Orleans; the original ride is in Disneyland's New Orleans Square. There are visual callbacks to the ride's Changing Portraits Hallway and Stretching Room. There's a ghostly organ player, who originated from the ride's ballroom scene. And there's a murderous-looking bride who's probably a reference to the attraction's bride--a "black widow" by the name of Constance Hatchaway.
Curtis' character, Madame Leota, is the woman in the crystal ball in the ride's seance room. And Leto's character the Hatbox Ghost was originally in the ride for a few months, and then disappeared for decades due to technical problems. The Imagineers restored him to the attraction in 2015.
The new Haunted Mansion is rated PG-13. The 2003 version was rated PG.
For years, there was a different Haunted Mansion movie in development. Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water, and Pacific Rim, worked on a script for a Haunted Mansion movie centered around the Hatbox Ghost. The movie would have been scary--anyone who's seen the Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth knows that del Toro specializes in conjuring up childhood nightmares. But the project never got off the ground, even after Ryan Gosling was rumored to play the lead. And in 2019, del Toro conceded that the project was likely dead. This new movie, made without del Toro's creative involvement, probably seals the deal.
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A visual tour of a Moscow art-nouveau gem
This fascinating art-nouveau mansion was designed by Fyodor Shekhtel for the family of young industrialist Stepan Ryabushinsky in 1900-1903. The two-storey building, lined with ceramic tiles and richly decorated with mosaic friezes, has four different facades and is completely asymmetrical.
The original interiors of Ryabushinsky’s mansion were largely destroyed during the early Soviet period, when it contained several state institutions. However, the main features have survived to this day.
The central staircase is reminiscent of a wave delivering a medusa-shaped lamp up to the first floor. The lounge ceiling is decorated with stucco depictions of plants covered with large crawling snails, while salamanders and lilies wind around the capital of the column on the second floor. On the secret third floor, Shekhtel designed a house chapel for Ryabushinsky’s family, who were Old Believers .
After the revolution, the building housed the People’s Committee of Foreign Affairs and then for a time the Main Administration of the State Publishing House, which was visited by poets Sergey Yesenin and Vladimir Mayakovsky . In 1931, Maksim Gorky returned to the USSR from Italy and stayed at Ryabushinsky’s former estate.
Today the mansion is home to the Maxim Gorky House Museum and a memorial library.
All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
- The Australian Ambassador’s art nouveau mansion