It is hard to imagine a world where a theme park ride births a five movie franchise with a near $5 billion box office, and a sixth movie on the way. Pirates Of The Caribbean did just that. It made a strong start, with a surprisingly enjoyable and old fashioned swashbuckler featuring a career defining performance from Johnny Depp. So it is no surprise to see Disney returning to that theme park for more inspiration. This time, Big Thunder Mountain.
After Pirates Of The Caribbean there was a less successful movie based on The Haunted Mansion, starring Eddie Murphy. Then there was Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. A second attempt at The Haunted Mansion is in the works, and now directing duo Bert & Bertie (Hawkeye, Our Flag Means Death) are in negotiations to direct Big Thunder Mountain.
The mine cart ride at Disney, fully named the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a roller coaster located at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Park in Paris. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is also the name of the fictional rail line the roller coaster depicts.
The backstory for the ride is expected to form the basis for the movie. That backstory varies slightly from park to park but they all follow the same general story arc.
Sometime in the late 1800s, gold was discovered on Big Thunder Mountain in the American Southwest. Overnight, a small mining town became a thriving one. Rainbow Ridge in Disneyland, Tumbleweed in Florida, Thunder Mesa in Disneyland Paris. Mining was prosperous, and an extensive line of mine trains was set up to transport the ore. Unknown to the settlers, the mountain was a sacred spot to local Native Americans and was cursed.
Before long, the settlers’ desecration of the mountain caused a great tragedy, which, depending on the park, is usually depicted to be an earthquake (Disneyland and Disneyland Paris), a tsunami (Tokyo Disneyland), or a flash flood (Walt Disney World), which befell the mines and town, and the town was abandoned.
Some time later, the locomotives were found to be racing around the mountain on their own, without engineers or a crew. The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was founded in the old mining camp to allow wanderers to take rides on the possessed trains.
What next? The Exorcist – The Ride? Tagline – “It will make your head spin!”
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was originally designed as a concept for the Western River Expedition, a western-themed pavilion at the Magic Kingdom, designed to look like an enormous plateau and contain many rides, including a runaway mine train roller coaster.
The pavilion as a whole was deemed too expensive with funds needed for the 1973 opening of Pirates of the Caribbean. The mine train idea was severed from the pavilion to be built as a separate attraction. However it was de-prioritised several times and eventually would have to wait until 1979 to open.
LuckyChap Entertainment and Scott Free are putting up the cash for the project with Kieran and Michele Mulroney writing the script. Directors Bert and Bertie are Amber Templemore-Finlayson and Katie Ellwood.
They met in 2005 in London when Bert was making a short film series to go along with the computer game The Getaway, and Bertie was the game’s writer. Bertie used to work for Sony Computer Entertainment as an assistant producer and script consultant. Their first project together was the short film Phobias. The two also directed commercials for McDonald’s.
In 2019, they directed the comedy-drama film Troop Zero. They were inspired to create the film after realizing the social and cultural impact the film could have on young girls, saying that they felt:
“…there had never been a film about a group of young girls that go on an adventure to achieve something by working together and succeeding”.
They convinced producer Todd Black at Escape Artists to help them create the film. This led to their time with the MCU.
No potential release date has been published at this time.