Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien suggests he used the 2003 Eddie Murphy version as a blueprint on what to avoid.
Despite the general disapproval of 2003’s Eddie Murphy-starring The Haunted Mansion, director Justin Simien is hoping that foolish mortals will join the queue for his take on the iconic Disney ride, as he hopes his spin will correct the errors from 20 years ago.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Justin Simien (Dear White People, Bad Hair) said he has just as many issues with the 2003’s The Haunted Mansion as most others. “I had a little bit of beef with the first film, because the first thing you’ve got to give the kids is the candy of the mansion that they know and love,” adding he “looked at [the film] a lot, mostly to see how easy it would be to go awry in certain spots.” But Simien did backtrack a bit, saying, “Not to dunk on the movie…It’s a movie of its time, and it’s also a movie that, frankly, a lot of people grew up with and love hardcore. In theaters, I was a little too old for it, but what I appreciated was Rob Minkoff. He’s a genius. And I appreciated the elevation that they were going for. They had this beautiful book of all the production design, and I spent a lot of time walking through what their intentions were. I think a lot of that was interesting, but I also didn’t want to repeat any of it…[I wanted to] create something totally different, but at the same time wouldn’t disrespect anyone who was a fan of that film or the good choices that film does make.”
What “good choices” does 2003’s The Haunted Mansion make? It’s easy to point out that it was another misfire in Murphy’s era of family-friendly cash grabs, but when it comes down to it, it’s actually not that bad of a movie, offering effective set decoration, clever enough nods to the ride and an all-time Jennifer Tilly performance as Madame Leota. (We’re expecting Jamie Lee Curtis to knock it out of the theme park as well.) For me, it ranks as one of Disney’s best horror-themed kids movies–with due respect to Mr. Boogedy. But we all know Guillermo del Toro’s version would have been the pinnacle of Disney ride adaptations.
This time around, Disney is hoping to shift drastically from 2003’s The Haunted Mansion, saying this PG-13 version “has a mythology to rival the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise”, while Curtis previously said, “It’s scary like a Disney ride, and funny. If you go on that ride, there’s a lot of humor as well as the scary, ghost-y stuff.” The cast also includes LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Jared Leto, and more.
Will you be hopping in your doom buggy to see Justin Simine’s Haunted Mansion? Are you a fan of the 2003 version? Let us know below!