The panel for Tomorrowland was the second half of Disney’s Main Stage opening salvo that completely won over the entire NY Comic Con crowd. Hosted by Chris Hardwick (as was Big Hero 6) the panel featured director Brad Bird (The Incredibles), writer Damon Lindeloff, stars Raffey Cassidy (Mr. Selfridge), Britt Robertson (Under The Dome), Hugh Laurie (House), and as a surprise guest George Clooney (Gravity).
Chris began the panel with Brad and Damon and they basically discussed that they can’t say too much about the film. Damon spoke about how the genesis of the film was a discussion with Disney about Pirates of the Caribbean and how they wanted to expand films into other parts of the theme parks. A suitcase full of Walt Disney’s notes, pictures, drawings and old reading material themed around sci-fi became his inspiration for a futurist film. Thinking of things like the Carousel of Progress he began to imagine a film. Brad said he was working with Damon on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and while they were hanging out discussing their next projects Tomorrowland came up. Damon had wanted Brad to direct and once they talked about the film he got on board.
They then showed the first teaser trailer for the film.
After the trailer Raffey, Britt and Hugh came out to talk about their characters and the little bits they were able to share. Raffey said her character isn’t a good guy or a bad guy as much as someone who means well and wants to do positive things while not being emotionally approachable or understanding. Britt’s character is our main heroine and she’s got issues but she’s brilliant and hopeful for the future. Her interaction with the pin in the teaser is her inciting incident and gives her a glimpse of her destiny. Hugh Laurie was asked if he was a bad guy by Chris Hardwick and he made a devious face and raised an eyebrow. Which drew an incredible reaction from the audience.
Hugh told a story about how he got involved when Damon told him the story of the inspiration of the film. He didn’t remember ever hearing of any way of thinking similar to the one they pitched him and when they wanted to put it on film he immediately was taken in by them. Chris then asked about what it was like for everyone to work with Clooney and the girls said he played music so they could relax and dance on set to keep it fun. Hugh started saying how George was a drinker and never played any music for him to dance to.
George came out during this little dressing down by Hugh and the entire theatre exploded. George played up that this was his first comic con experience. He came from his honeymoon to do this panel but only if they showed more than the teaser footage. He said he’s a pretty big star and they need to showcase that.
The second sequence features Britt’s character Casey and George’s character Frank Walker.
Brittany walks through a field to an old farm and passes by a mailbox that says Walker. She walks to an old dilapidated farm house. She gets to the door and sees the only modern update a wireless security camera. Frank’s voice asks what she wants and Casey tells him she wants to go to the place she saw when she touched the pin. He tells her to leave she says now and suddenly she is blasted away from the door by some invisible force.
Casey camps out in front of his house through a rain storm but won’t leave. From inside the house she is watched by Frank through several high tech security monitors. Later that night he sees his tractor is on fire. He grabs a high tech fire extinguisher and puts the fire out. It doesn’t just put out the fire the entire tractor is covered in ice.
He turns to see his open door slam shut on him. He yells at Casey and she watches him through the security feed. He says he’ll call the cops and she blasts him with the same invisible blast he shot at her. She moves deeper into the house and sees his office. He has tons of monitors filled with different news feeds and a strange clock is counting down. Behind her the stairs lift and Frank sneaks back in from the secret entrance.
Casey begins to ask about the pin and the place she saw. She tells him she wants to go and he asks who she is. At that moment his alarm goes off and he sees someone moving through the farm. A ‘man’ who seems to smile just a bit too big tells Frank to turn over Casey. She’s a fugitive and must be taken into custody immediately. Frank activates his security system and the man and his team assault the house. Frank has a series of defensive weapons and booby traps to keep the assault team out. The team is made up of androids with heavy laser weapons. All of Franks traps keep Casey and himself from capture until Frank is cornered. Casey destroys the robot with a baseball bat. (A cheerfully analog finale to a fantastic sequence full of futuristic technology.)
Frank orders Casey to get into his tub. Once they are in together it becomes an escape pod and he activates his House Destruct sequence. They are attacked as the house prepares to blow up and the tub is launched into the sky. Once the house explodes the sequence ends.
Disney is all in on Tomorrowland. The story of the secret case full of Walt’s notes, the Before Tomorrowland book coming next April, and The Optimist ARG in California last year are all major elements of the filming. At NY Comic Con they gave us a version of the Tomorrowland pin that appears in the film and an excerpt from the novel. They want to hang on to as much info as they can but the little they let out today makes the film look to be extremely promising.
May 22, 2015 … can’t get here fast enough.
– Mr. Khon
PS – If there is a new ARG involved with Tomorrowland I’m hoping to get involved. There was a mention of a NYC hotel in the excerpt they gave us. We’ll try to see if there’s something there.