Finally! Disney’s Captain EO Could Be Coming to Theaters

in Disney, Entertainment

Justin Simien Captain EO movie

Credit: Inside the Magic

Although director Justin Simien’s live-action reboot of Disney’s Haunted Mansion (2023) failed to scare up impressive numbers at the summer box office, he’s already brainstormed his next Disney ride adaptation—and it’s a deep cut.

'Haunted Mansion' (2023) cast gathered together
Credit: Disney

Related: New Pitch Could Start Disney Park Ride Cinematic Universe

The Walt Disney Company’s theme parks contain numerous rides based on beloved movies like Pinocchio (1940) and Peter Pan (1953), but there are actually some films that were inspired by attractions first. From the swashbuckling Johnny Depp-led Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson’s more recent Jungle Cruise (2021), Disney hasn’t shied away from bringing popular Guest experiences to life in the form of feature-length adaptations.

Johnny Depp looking distressed as Captain Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Credit: Disney

Related: How ‘Haunted Mansion’ Connects to the Disney Parks

Haunted Mansion is the latest Disney attraction-inspired movie to hit the big screen, and stars A-listers like LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, and Rosario Dawson in a spooktacular adventure that explains the lore behind the classic ride. Despite receiving lackluster reviews and a generally unremarkable box office performance, the film is still receiving praise for it’s carefully-placed Easter eggs and attention to detail, satisfying hardcore lovers of the ride and casual fans alike.

Justin Simien’s ability to tap into some of the best aspects of the ride while bringing fan-favorite ghosts and ghouls to life has unquestionably opened a new door for the future of attraction-based adaptations, with there being countless options for which Disney Parks ride to explore next. And it seems like Simien already has his top pick of which attraction he’d like to adapt after Haunted Mansion.

Lindsay Lamb as The Bride in Disney's HAUNTED MANSION
Credit: Disney

Speaking with Screen Rant at the recent San Diego Comic-Con 2023, Simien revealed the surprising Disney ride he’d like to bring to life on the big screen: the decommissioned Captain EO. The Dear White People creator defended his perhaps unusual decision, saying, “Listen, I know it is out of commission, okay? I know that’s not technically a ride, but I am ready.”

He also added that he’s interested in diving into the musical elements of Captain EO, telling the outlet, “I need some singing and I need some dancing and I need some jerry curl juice in outer space immediately.”

Michael Jackson in Disney's Captain EO
Credit: Disney

For those not familiar with Captain EO, the attraction was at Disneyland from 1986 to 1997, and at DisneyWorld’s Epcot Center from 1986 to 1994. Based on a 3D sci-fi musical short film that was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and written by George Lucas, the ride featured Michael Jackson as the eponymous superstar, and followed him and his crew as they embarked on an out-of-this-world mission to save a planet from The Supreme Leader.

After a run of over ten years at Disneyland, Captain EO closed quietly in April 1997, though it was briefly resurrected at the Magic Eye Theater following the King of Pop’s passing in 2009. Captain EO Tribute officially reopened at Disneyland on February 23, 2010 as a limited engagement, providing 17 minutes of fun entertainment for a new generation of audiences. Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland would also follow suit with Captain EO revivals of their own, though all showings came to a close by 2015.

Considering Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas are still around to lend their talents, bringing back Captain EO for a fresh new screen adaptation would be the perfect way to introduce younger Disney fans to the source material. Simien could tap into the nostalgia of the attraction and build on the foundation laid by its iconic creators, perhaps starring Lil Nas X with direction from Coppola’s filmmaker daughter, Sofia Coppola.

A Captain EO revival could also be Disney’s chance to make a successful ride-based musical, and could feature new songs and choreography from today’s hottest pop artists for a more timely retelling of the source material. With endless possibilities, it’s surprising that the House of Mouse hasn’t already given Simien’s pitch the green light.

Captain EO (Michael Jackson)
Credit: Disney

For now, it’ll be interesting to see what the future of Disney attraction-based adaptation will look like, given that Haunted Mansion likely won’t score big at the box office for the duration of its theatrical run. Nonetheless, there’s certainly potential for movies like Captain EO or even Space Mountain, and with a talented director at the helm, Disney could profit big time from bringing their iconic rides to the silver screen, and could finally ditch the bland live-action remakes once and for all.

What do you think of Justin Simien’s Captain EO pitch? Do you think this would make for an entertaining film? Let us know in the comments below.

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