max landis Space Mountain script

With the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, it’s a wonder that Disney hasn’t forced movie adaptations of every single one of their theme park rides into existence. On the other hand, 2015’s Tomorrowland (not to mention 2003’s The Haunted Mansion) was a sign that not every theme park adaptation is a guaranteed hit, so it’s unsurprising that Disney would tread cautiously.

Enter: Space Mountain, one of Disney’s most popular and long-running rides and the subject of a screenplay by Max Landis. Unfortunately, Landis never got his movie off the ground, and the Max Landis Space Mountain script remains unseen. Well, for the most part — Landis is still pretty chatty about his long-dead project.

In an interview with Screen Junkies, Landis shared the details of his Space Mountain script, which Landis had originally sold to Walt Disney Pictures in 2012. The production was suddenly halted after a few months when it was revealed that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and were planning on making new Star Wars films — which turned out to be the new series kicked off by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Since Disney now has their own space movie franchise, Landis’ Space Mountain script was grounded. (He’s not hard pressed for work now though, with a potential An American Werewolf in London remake on the way.)

Landis told Screen Junkies that his script was inspired by the old surf music that played on the Space Mountain ride. “I wanted to do a movie where people said ‘gee whiz’ but the stakes were huge,” he said in the video interview:

My Space Mountain movie was cool. It was a ’50s retro future movie. They had rocket ships and ray guns but no cell phones and internet.

He described to the interviewer the rocket ships that traveled “faster than light” on roller coaster tracks, forming the basis for his movie’s conflict:

Another cool thing was the idea that when you come back from light speed, you’re 9 and a half grams lighter but you seem normal. Then slowly over the course of a day, it turns out that the human soul can’t travel at light speed. So whole ships come back with people with no souls who seem normal but then turn into horrible monsters — no wonder this movie didn’t get made.

After the interview was released on YouTube earlier this week, Landis shared some of the concept art from his film.

Like the interviewer mentions, it does sound high-concept — and perhaps a little too ambitious for Disney to turn into a family-friendly film. However, the zombie narrative has only become more popular recently and could have potentially turned into a pulpy and strange space zombies film. My reservations with Landis as a person aside, he’s an adept storyteller and could have created a unique film out of a theme park ride. Plus it’s clear that he has a genuine affection for the ride and Disney theme parks.

You can see the full interview with Landis below. He starts speaking about his Space Mountain script at 0:49. In the meantime, Disney has gone full steam ahead with another theme park adaptation: Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson.

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