Tomorrowland was one of two mainstream movies to open this Memorial Day weekend. Tomorrowland narrowly managed to beat out Pitch Perfect 2 in ticket sales, underwhelming for a Disney movie.
So, what happened? This is a family friendly film. Families need things to do, especially on Memorial Day weekend. As The Wall Street Journal notes, Families accounted for only 30 percent of Tomorrowland‘s weekend audience. I guess they were all out barbecuing instead of watching Tomorrowland. They wouldn’t have gone in to see the rebooted horror flick Poltergeist, the only other major film to open this weekend.
Tomorrowland is an original story. Tomorrowland isn’t totally new, though. It started as a futuristic Disney theme park ride. They grew a theme park ride concept into an entire movie. But it’s not just a way to get more people into Disney parks. The story and concept of Tomorrowland are fresh.
Vox talks about why Tomorrowland is a movie to take a chance on, even through its imperfections.
“What director Brad Bird and his co-writer Damon Lindelof (who came up with the story with Jeff Jensen) are getting at here is the idea that the most powerful force humanity has is blind optimism and hope. The thrust of the film turns out to be — literally! — an argument against dystopian fiction and the post-apocalyptic scenarios that clog up our multiplexes, TV lineups, and bookstores. These ideas are, the film argues, poisoning our belief in humanity’s ability to get out of tight corners and thus making it harder to try to fight back against the many ills that could destroy us in the future.”
Not only does Tomorrowland present hope for the future, it presents hope for the future of Hollywood. Disney’s blockbusters of late, and those of the movie industry in general, are mostly sequels or re-imaginings of past properties. Tomorrowland is an enigma competing against established franchises.
But Tomorrowland is a risk upon a risk. Disney kept much of the movie plot and concept secret. That’s tricky when kicking off a brand new property like Tomorrowland. You’d play on so much mystery that you’d lose people. They wouldn’t care enough to solve the Tomorrowland riddle via box office purchases.
I may support Tomorrowland, just because of the creative risk taken by a major movie studio. We need more new story concepts in Hollywood. If movies like Tomorrowland meet a receptive audience, how could that not spur further cinematic innovation? Perhaps Tomorrowland is the first step in a new direction for cinema. And hopefully, box office sales will slowly start to reflect that Tomorrowland is truly worth.
[Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images]