Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, introduced audiences in attendance at the 2022 D23 Expo to a first look at the upcoming Haunted Mansion film. “The classic theme park attraction offers so much inspiration, and you’re going to see it in every frame,” according to Bailey. “The story revolves around a woman and her son, who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help them rid their home of supernatural squatters.”
For director Justin Simien, a former Disneyland cast member, the attraction was near and dear to his heart, and the script for the film captured it perfectly. “There was something about that ride that I felt like was just there in the script,” he explains. “That script was funny and filled with interesting characters, but it had a little bit of like a dark edge to it.” He also immediately felt as though he knew how to make it. “I felt like I understood New Orleans. And of course, I’m a fanboy, so I felt like I understood the ride and I felt like – I don’t know – I’ve got a responsibility here man.” To that end, he packed in the moments that fans will want to see. “I gotta make sure all the little details, all the little Easter eggs are there because I’m a nerd for real.”
Audiences were treated to a sizzle reel of the film, that was indeed filled with subtle – and not so subtle – nods to the ride. It was also filled with superstar cameos. “We do have a dope cast, but we also got a little bit of Winona Ryder. Have you heard of her? We got some Dan Levy up in the movie. Hasan Minhaj,” enthuses Simien. “According to TikTok, Jared Leto is in the movie.”
“You promised me I can make it a little scary,” continues Simien. “Obviously we can’t make a scary movie without a certain someone. There’s one person we had to have. The queen of scary movies.” With this introduction, Jamie Lee Curtis, everyone’s favorite Scream Queen, entered the stage on a Haunted Mansion Doom Buggy to the delight of screaming fans.
Haunted Mansion is scheduled to be released in the United States on March 10, 2023.
A single mom named Gabbie and her 9-year-old son, who are looking to start a new life, move into a strangely affordable mansion in New Orleans, only to discover that the place is much more than they bargained for. Desperate for help, they contact a priest, who, in turn, enlists the aid of a widowed scientist-turned-failed-paranormal expert, a French Quarter psychic, and a crotchety historian to help exorcise the mansion.