Tomorrowland is a sci-fi film directed by Brad Bird and released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in 2015. The film stars George Clooney as a genius inventor that take along a science-loving teenager as they embark on a long quest to find out the mystery behind the alternate dimension called Tomorrowland. Despite having a big production budget and good cast members, Tomorrowland failed in the box office, making it one of the biggest flops for Disney. There are numerous reasons why Tomorrowland was a box office failure, and we are about to find out these reasons as we take a look at the production history and reception of Tomorrowland.
The concept for Tomorrowland was created in 2010 when screenwriter Damon Lindelof started talking to Walt Disney Studios for a possible sci-fi film that is based on the Tomorrowland theme park found inside Disneyland. The project was then approved in 2011 by Sean Bailey, the president of Walt Disney Pictures, with Lindelof serving as the writer and producer for the film.
Lindelof recruited Jeff Jensen to provide additional story elements in the film, and Jensen began to research on the history of the Tomorrowland park and Walt Disney’s fascination with utopias and futurism. In 2012, Walt Disney Pictures hired Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant (1999) and The Incredibles (2004), to serve as the director of the sci-fi film. Around the same year, Bird was also asked by Walt Disney Studios if he wanted to direct Start Wars: Episode VII (The Force Awakens), but Bird decline so that he can focus on directing Tomorrowland. After the director for the film has been determined, George Clooney then communicated with Walt Disney Studios to star in the film.
The original title form the film was “1952,” and this title was teased by Bird via a tweet on Twitter in January 2013. The teaser tweet is accompanied by a photo that features a box with the label “1952,” and inside the box are several photographs of Walt Disney, as well as retro objects like a vinyl record and an Amazing Stories magazine that is published in 1928. On August 10, 2013, Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof unboxed the 1952 box during the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.
The principal photography for the film was held in Enderby, British Columbia, on August 19, 2013, just days after the D23 Expo, and it ended on January 15, 2014. As for the shooting locations, several scenes were shot first in November 2013 at the New Smyrna Beach in Florida and at the Carousel of Progress stage show attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida. Additional scenes were then filmed at another attraction called It’s a Small World, which is located in Disneyland in California.
When it premiered in theaters around the United States and Canada on May 22, 2015, it was able to get $9.7 million in box office sales and was tied with Pitch Perfect 2 in terms of sales during that week, although the latter was already on its second week. Overall, it gathered $209 million in box office sales by the end of 2015. Despite having relatively high box office sales for a kid-friendly movie, it was considered by many movie critics to be a box office failure since the budget used to produce and market the film was reported to be $280 to $300 million.
In terms of critical response, Tomorrowland has a rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 294 reviews. On Metacritic, the movie has a total score of 60 out of 100 that was determined through the combined scores of 47 critics. Based on these scores and ratings, it could be assumed that Tomorrowland received mixed reviews. According to several critics, Tomorrowland is a light-hearted film that is suitable for kids, but it failed to have a good story that would make the movie more memorable. In addition, some critics cited that the marketing for Tomorrowland was too much, as the additional content provided by the production team to the audience through several gimmicks, like teasers and exhibits, wasn’t even incorporated in the film itself. Some of those who have anticipated the release of the movie said that Tomorrowland focused too much on eye candies rather than focusing on giving a great story that will help it become a modern classic.
After the release of the film in 2015, Damon Lindelof came back as a writer and executive producer for the show The Leftovers, which aired on HBO from 2014 to 2017. Two years after the end of The Leftovers, Lindelof began working as the writer and executive producer for Watchmen, a TV series based on the DC comic book of the same name created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. As for Brad Bird, he became the director for the sequel of The Incredible 2 in 2018, although he has constantly been working with Walt Disney Studios since 2015 as a member of the senior creative team for Inside Out, Finding Dory (sequel to Finding Nemo), Coco, and other animated films.