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D23 Expo: Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof Preview Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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D23 Expo 2013: Tomorrowland banner

Tomorrowland, Disney’s top-secret film from Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof, was previewed earlier today at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA.

Though not much of the actual film was detailed, and star George Clooney was not in attendance, the filmmakers offered a glimpse into the background of the mysterious project.

Walt Disney’s innovation, interest in scientific and technical breakthroughs, and his subsequent plans to build off of this optimism, are the basis behind Tomorrowland, which will focus on themes of discovery and the future.

Bird (director, co-writer, producer) and Lindelof (co-writer, producer) took out the “1952 box” found only some time ago. A picture of this box has circulated around the web for months, creating a viral buzz, prompting much discussion and even more questions about the project.

Disney's Tomorrowland mystery box

[Disney’s Tomorrowland 1952 mystery box photo posted to Twitter
by director Brad Bird in January 2013.]

Bird joined the movie after Lindelof started a conversation on what could be uncovered by the artifacts, thus leading to this film’s eventual development.

Inside the dusty container were a handful of artifacts, some manipulated and others very uncertain. The two shared with the audience a few of those finds.

There was “no better place” to open the box than at the Expo, they said.

One “discovery” was a picture of Walt Disney with Amelia Earhart, only the photo was marked with the year “1945,” which is after her disappearance. Individuals later found out that the picture was a fake, and obviously taken much earlier. Someone must have inserted Walt’s face onto the body of the male figure in the picture with Earhart. Sketchy, right?

“Why was it put in here?” Bird wondered.

But not all of the finds were practical jokes. Many have value, even if they are not necessarily certain what they mean. For instance, inside the box was a piece of cardboard with holes in it, as well as a code that corresponded with an “Amazing Stories” magazine also found in the box. The August 1928 publication featured a piece of writing that must have spoken to the Imagineers. Lindelof and Bird demonstrated how they placed the cardboard with those strategically-located slots, set right over the correct magazine page, to reveal a message.

One of the lines said, “I began practical penetration into the world.” Very cryptic.

Other rare and cool finds included a blueprint for another structure underneath the “It’s a small world” attraction. But the real details and insignias could only be revealed under black-light. Very neat!

“What was happening at the 1964 World’s Fair?” Lindelof wondered.

My favorite find was an envelope containing a record, saved for last. The scratched-up record had been quite damaged over the years, but the filmmakers were able to extract some data. Though the quality of the imagery and sound were lacking, it was absolutely incredible to see this piece of unseen animation.

This was probably developed in the early 1960s, or perhaps earlier, and showed animation of the history of mankind, the evolution of societies from past to “present,” and the great inventive minds of the last century (Jules Verne being one of them). “Mankind’s greatest resource,” though, is considered to be imagination. The animation also showed various forms of transportation, an atomic bomb, and inspired viewers to wonder “that’s why, fellow travelers, you have been invited here.” “In just 20 years we will share this extraordinary place with the entire world,” the video said.

The footage included a ton of narrative jumps due to the film’s roughness.

Disney Tomorrowland title card

[Disney’s Tomorrowland title card courtesy of Walt Disney Studios. Used with permission.]

This was fascinating to say the least, and I know I’m ready to head to Tomorrowland, wherever that place may be, when the film hits theaters on December 12, 2014.

Stay posted on new D23 Expo updates by following @bnachmanreports and @geeksofdoom on Twitter. And check back here at Geeks of Doom for more news from me on the D23 Expo!

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