George Clooney as Walt Disney?
I was writing, waxing snarketic on George Clooney starring in a movie written by the guy who specializes in mystical sci-fi bullsh*t (Damon Lindelof of Lost and Prometheus fame) and based on Disney World’s most boring attraction, Tomorrowland (except for Space Mountain, which is f*cking awesome), when I had a thought: Several pieces of information clicked into place and suddenly I was struck by an idea. A tantalizing, sexy idea.
Here’s the rundown: Earlier last year Lindelof and director Brad Bird announced they were developing a project at Disney called 1952. Late last year, George Clooney signed up to star. Yesterday, EW reported that 1952 was changing its name to Tomorrowland. Everyone, myself included, mocked the notion of a movie derived from Tomorrowland, as it is lame (I remember it being a repository for stuff that was either never going to be used, like monorails, or was hilariously out of date, like “microwaves are so crazy!”), but then the switch flipped.
What if this is the long-awaited Walt Disney biopic?
Lindelof is a graduate of the JJ Abrams School of SUPER BIG SECRETS, so it’s impossible to trust anything he says, and he’s going to engage in stunting like releasing this tease of a suitcase stuffed full of papers, including photos of Disney. I hate SUPER BIG SECRETS because everything is a tease and everything is a misdirect, but that also means that Lindelof is kind of the perfect guy to develop this project. A Disney biopic has been speculated on forever, with Tom Hanks starring as Disney in Saving Mr. Banks—the story of the making of Mary Poppins—being the closest we’ve come yet. But that still isn’t full-on biographical treatment of one of the most important figures in entertainment history. And if you’re going to do that, at last, what better way to protect its development than by letting Lindelof run wild with his SECRETY SECRETS?
The case for: Disney was a huge futurist and Tomorrowland was his pride and joy, so much so that he’s rumored to have forbidden it ever being shut down, despite its terminal lameness. Tomorrowland has a December 2014 release date, which makes more sense for award bait than for a sci-fi tent pole, especially since Disney will be re-launching Star Wars the next year—why dilute their own brand? And in 1952…he proposed Disneyland.
Is it? IS IT?
It will be a while before we know either way. Clooney is currently in Germany prepping his next movie, which he will also direct, The Monuments Men, adapted from the book about the Allied team that tracked down and saved many priceless pieces of art from destruction toward the end of World War II. It’s a terrific book ripe for a movie adaptation, and Matt Damon and Daniel Craig are on board to co-star, because apparently Clooney is inspired by Vanity Fair now. He’s positioning Monuments Men later this year For Your Consideration. The strategy is already unfolding—this year he’s working the producer’s circuit for Argo, being a bro and supporting Affleck, but this time next year he’s going to be promoting himself and Monuments Men, as well as August: Osage County, another of his producer credits and another potential award contender. Then he could be back the following year for his role as Walt Disney.
Clooney is seriously gaming with the Academy, and seems to be angling to be as much a power player as a producer as he is an A-list actor. Is it really the moment for a cheesy Disney sci-fi movie? Or are the next couple years more about the prestige? And what’s more prestigious than being the one to finally, finally bring Walt to the big screen in his own biopic?
I can see it. Can’t you?