HAUNTED MANSION UPDATE
IGN has been tracking Disney's ride-to-film adaptation of The Haunted Mansion for a while now ? There is a lot of anticipation around this film along with the Pirates of the Caribbean flick (the two more popular attractions at Walt Disney World). A new ray of hope comes today courtesy of Jim Hill Media, where a positive review of the film's early screenplay has turned up.
According to the scooper, the film begins in the town of Liberty, New Orleans. Inside a beautiful old mansion, a young woman sits writing a letter to her soon-to-be husband. As she finishes the letter, she wipes the tears from her eyes and sprinkles some powder into a glass of wine and drinks it. Moments later, the man she was to marry rushes into the room to find her collapsed on the floor... dead.
The story then flashes forward to present-day and that's where the previously reported plot summary picks up. We're introduced to Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy), a workaholic husband and father who brings his family to the Gracey Mansion on a business trip. Once there, the family becomes separated and trapped in the creepy old house. They soon discover that the mansion is actually haunted by 999 spirits. During their frightening stay, Jim's wife, Sara, finds that she may be linked to the mansion's mysterious past. In the end, the haunted mansion's ghosts spook Jim into realizing the importance of family.
The script reviewer is enthusiastic about the draft that he read, but is quick to caution readers that the story could've changed (his copy of the script is from 2000). This is probably true because I've seen portions of the Mansion script myself and it's not nearly as impressive as this writer makes it out to be. It's not really bad, but it's not the 'definitive Haunted Mansion movie' as he calls the screenplay.
I first became worried about this film when I heard Eddie Murphy was cast in the lead role ? nothing against Murphy, but he just didn't mesh with my expectations for the tone of the project. However, there is one bit of marvelous casting that has the potential to counteract any miscasting that might crop up in the picture (even Jennifer Tilly as Madame Leota)... Don Knotts! Barney Fife, Mr. Chicken, Theodore Ogelvie, Mr. Limpet, Inspector Winship (Private Eyes), and the TV repairman from Pleasantville, will now portray the frightened old caretaker in The Haunted Mansion. If only the film could've centered on him! Every time I listed to the read-along book as a kid, I pictured Knotts as the caretaker. Alas, he'll probably just have a cameo appearance, but it's still inspired casting.
Haunted Mansion is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little), from a script by David Berenbaum. The film is set for a November release.
Courtesy of IGN Filmforce