Warning: Spoilers ahead
Disney’s latest film “Tomorrowland” is an uplifting story that champions those who believe imagination can better the world.
Though Frank (George Clooney) and Casey (Britt Robertson) are two such dreamers, they are trapped in a world crippled by war and a planet dying due to our own disregard for it.
Their only hope is a far-away place called Tomorrowland. And as we learn through the film, this wondrous utopia was created by some of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known. Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, and Gustave Eiffel joined forces to become the group known as Plus Ultra, which founded Tomorrowland.
But “Tomorrowland” director Brad Bird was planning to give Plus Ultra a much larger origin story if he didn’t have to cut it out due to running-time constraints.
According to Eddie Pasquarello, who was the co-visual effects supervisor on the film, animation studio Pixar created a short story for the movie that’s part-Plus Ultra explanation, part-recruitment video for entry into Tomorrowland. Pasquarello’s team was tasked to create a CG-heavy ride in the style of what you’d find at a Disney amusement park for a scene that the Pixar story would be told in.
Pasquarello explains the scene, which would have presumably been in the beginning of the film when young Frank is on the “It’s A Small World” ride at the 1964 World’s Fair:
“It was pitched as a ride under a ride. When Frank drops below the ‘It’s A Small World’ ride instead of going right to the portal to Tomorrowland he would have taken this ride first, like a Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride. Moving set pieces, mist curtains, it would have been literally riding a classic Disney ride and it would have told the backstory of Plus Ultra.”
But animation on the ride portion was shut down after Bird realised he couldn’t fit it in the film.
Instead, last month he tweeted out the Pixar short as backstory.
Including it in the film may have helped crystallize to the audience how Tomorrowland came to be, but as the film’s production designer Scott Chambliss told The New York Times: “It’s a great cartoon, and we all loved doing it, but it stopped the movie dead, according to Brad.”
Pasquarello believes in the future if Bird ever wanted to include the Plus Ultra origin story with the CGI ride portion, it’s possible.
“I think there’s enough done that it could be a Blu-ray extra, for sure,” he said.
Watch the origin of Plus Ultra here.
“Tomorrowland” is currently playing in theatres.
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