Since the very beginning, Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland has been a project shrouded in mystery. We’ve had a vague idea of what he story entails, as well as who most of the primary players involved are, but aside from that, Disney has kept a tight lid on this one. But now we have a few official stills from the movie, and Bird and writer Damon Lindelof have shared a few additional details about the story and what the overall film looks like.
The larger story plays into the mythos and legend of Walt Disney, who was notorious for his fascination with all things futuristic. Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Lindelof compares Tomorrowland to another visionary franchise, Harry Potter. He says:
What Hogwarts is to magic, Tomorrowland is to science: They are both easy to find if you are a wizard and very difficult to find if you’re a Muggle. Walt Disney is not a character in our movie, but he is referenced as having some involvement in this mysterious place called Tomorrowland, as a huge futurist and aficionado of space travel, rocketry, cities of the future, and space travel.
Lindelof also opened up about the specifics of the plot, saying a young woman named Casey Newton, played by Britt Robertson, finding a pin sets the whole thing in motion. When she touches it, the item unveils a place called “Tomorrowland,” shocking, right. Lindelof continues, again, leaning on the Harry Potter metaphor:
There is a piece of technology in this pin, it’s the kind of old-school pin you would wear on your lapel, and when you make physical contact with it, you have the illusion of being physically transported to another world, and that’s how Casey gets her first glimpse of Tomorrowland. She is a Muggle who accidentally wanders across Platform 9 ¾ and sees something she probably shouldn’t have.
The idea of discovering a magical, or at least fantastic new world, one that has been hidden all along, is a staple of this kind of speculative fiction. Bird throws in his two cents, adding, “At first when she experiences this thing, she’s not sure if it’s real or not. It’s kind of like being hit by a dream and not sure whether the dream was a dream or real.”
In the film, Casey encounters Frank Welker, George Clooney’s character, a failed inventor who has retreated into a private, hermetic lifestyle. I feel like Clooney could be a perfect choice to play a failed inventor. On this topic, Bird expands:
He’s at this farmhouse, and it’s probably the house he’s grown up in. He hasn’t done anything to it. He’s done tech stuff inside it, but it’s not a super cool bachelor pad. It’s more like a guy who is retreating when something didn’t go well… There’s something about George, you can see the wheels turning in his eyes, and he reads as somebody who is very principled. He seems like a very pragmatic guy who also dreams, but he’s not flighty. There’s an integrity to him that you feel.
In the first image up top, you see Robertson’s Casey, and if she looks suitably shocked and awed—it’s easy to imagine that she just pushed the button and wound up in Tomorrowland for the first time—just wait until she turns around and sees what’s waiting behind her. She’s got a good, “holy shit what just happened and where the hell am I?” expression on her face.
The next photo shoots holes in my hope that Clooney’s failed inventor is more of old-timey variety than a modern incarnation. I was hoping for a rumbled lab coat and thin mustache that he somehow manages to pull off startlingly well. I guess we’ll have to take what we can get.
Our third image is a piece of concept art, and looks to be a more close up view of the city or urban center that looms in the background of the first photo.
Tomorrowland also stars Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Thomas Robinson, and Kathryn Hahn, and opens everywhere May 22, 2015.