One of the things that sidetracked me yesterday was some time spent with the always-engaging Jon Favreau, and in that entire time, the wily filmmaker never once mentioned his involvement in “The Magic Kingdom,” which is being described as a “Night At The Museum” style adventure set in…. well, you get the idea. It’s the ultimate idea in corporate synergy, and since anything in the park can theoretically appear in the film, it opens Disney up to using anything they want from any of their classics.
What he did mention, though, was the general idea that there’s a specific game you have to play as a filmmaker these days if you want to work at a certain level and make movies with certain kinds of movie stars and work with certain kinds of effects. He talked about his reaction when he first heard the idea for “Pirates Of The Caribbean,” the same reaction that so many people had. “Has it really come to this?” It was when he first heard that Johnny Depp had been cast that he started to believe that the film could be something more than a cheap cash grab.
I guess “Magic Kingdom” was inevitable. The success of the “A Night At The Museum” films is undeniable, no matter what I think of them as films, and it seems like there’s an entire subgenre of fantasy films that has sprung up in the past few years, the “things coming to life” movies. To be fair, I don’t think “A Night At The Museum” is where it began. “Jumanji” was an obvious early example of the idea, and the sequel to that film was “Zathura,” directed by none other than Jon Favreau.
It’s surprising to hear that Ron Moore of “Battlestar Galactica” fame wrote the most recent draft of the film. Whatever it was that he turned in, that’s what got Favreau interested, and now it looks like they’ll bring on a new writer to develop it with the director. In all of the reporting I’ve seen on “Magic Kingdom,” people are writing about how Favreau is expected to make “Iron Man 3,’ which Disney’s already set up for 2013. Based on what he said today, though, I wouldn’t lay money down on him returning. Not yet. I think there are a number of things, creatively and financially, that would have to happen before Favreau signs on for that third film. He seems far more interested in moving forward at this point than moving back.
And since it’s not enough to announce one big “things coming to life” job today, it looks like Tim Herlihy, one of Adam Sandler’s most frequent collaborators, is going to be the man in charge of “Pixels.” Do you remember that short film from a few months ago? It’s the one where the familiar video game icons play in the real world. I’m not sure how the deal for “Pixels” worked, since so much of the fun iconography of the short is the recognizable video game characters that show up. Will Happy Madison be able to license all of those properties? I’m unclear on whether or not Patrick Jean, who directed the original short film, is going to direct the feature, but it’s going to need some real work to be an actual story. Herlihy is one of those guys who has written on many of the Adam Sandler films, and his sensibilities are very close to what people think of as Happy Madison movies. It makes sense Herlihy would be the guy that they’d hire.
Neither of these films is anywhere near going in front of a camera, and we’ll see what happens as development continues.