Most big-budget studio movies need two things: name recognition and franchise potential. This is why we have films based on board games and way too many sequels.
But for "Tomorrowland," writer Damon Lindelof knew that he had to work with Disney within those constraints without succumbing to their worst tendencies, and that means good things for all of us.
"It's always a degree of hubris to say that we're launching a franchise, and the reality is I think Disney was looking for some of sort name recognition," he told us on the red carpet after "Tomorrowland's" big NYCC unveiling.
To get Disney executives interested, Lindelof needed to work with something that moviegoers would already be familiar with, but to do so without trapping himself and director Brad Bird narratively. The Tomorrowland attractions in Disney theme parks were the perfect solution.
"'Tomorrowland' is just a word. There's no story behind it," Lindelof said. "When you walk around Disneyland or Disney World in Tomorrowland, there's Space Mountain, but there's no real story behind that. We could do anything that we wanted to, and you would feel that we were inside the Disney family."
As for the sequelitis, Lindelof and Bird decided that the scale of the world would provide follow-up possibilities and that those didn't need to be built into the story unnecessarily.
"I think when we sat down, [we] said we're not going to do those things in movies where we're setting up the guy who would be the bad guy in the second movie, or ends in a way that feels slightly unresolved," Lindelof said. "This is going to be a movie that has a beginning, middle and end. If it works really well, there are always more stories to tell in that realm. I don't think we sat down and said, 'It's the first movie in a planned trilogy or quadrilogy.'"
"Tomorrowland" opens in theaters on May 22.