Haunted Mansion Footage Description: Grim Grinning Ghosts Come Out To Socialize [D23]

Disney's D23 Expo is happening right now, with brand new info, footage, trailers, and more. /Film's own Ethan Anderton is on the ground, bringing you the latest news from the big movie and TV panels. Today we have our first real look at the latest footage from the upcoming "Haunted Mansion" film. This one isn't connected to the 2003 Eddie Murphy version, but it does take place in that spooky hideaway for 999 happy haunts. Based on the Disney theme park attraction, it's the story of a doctor (Rosario Dawson) and her young son (Chase Dillon) who move into a surprisingly affordable old mansion in New Orleans. Of course, it's haunted, and she has to call in some experts to figure out the mystery. 

There is a priest played by Owen Wilson, a psychic played by Tiffany Haddish, a historian played by Danny Devito, and a whole lot of ghosts. LaKeith Stanfield will play a widower who was a scientist and is now a failed paranormal expert. Let's dive into the scary sneak preview shown at the D23 panel, and relay what we saw in the exclusive footage shown for the crowd. 

999 happy haunts on the big screen

Director Justin Simien ("Dear White People," "Bad Hair," "Queer for Fear") really showed off his Disney cred at this year's D23, when he dazzled audiences with his old Disneyland cast member ID in front of the entire audience. Simien told the crowd that when he wasn't working, he always found himself drawn to two rides: Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. "There was something about the ride that I felt was right there in the script," he said. "It was funny but had a dark edge to it, I felt like I related to it." Simien assured the audience that his take on "The Haunted Mansion" would be a faithful one, joking before the start of exclusive first-look footage, "I gotta make sure all the little Easter eggs are there, because I'm a nerd."

The footage begins with a car pulling down a spooky lane with a sign that says "Do Not Enter" on the side. A narrator begins speaking and the voice is none other than national treasure, Danny DeVito. Suddenly, things start to look a bit strange...there's paranormal attacks! Explosions! Creepy imagery from inside the house! "There are no records, only stories," he says.

A character played by Rosario Dawson discovers blueprints of the creepy old house, and notices that there should be a room at the end of the hall, but there's no door. Owen Wilson, donning a bowler hat and jacket, claims he can open it, pulling on the light torch on the wall before it breaks off. LaKeith Stanfield's character gives it a go as well, looking through the eyes of a portrait on the wall, pulling on them, which opens to a creepy cave of stairs.

The trio grab flashlights and head down the stairs, noting a roundtable with chairs and a cobwebbed chandelier above it. Stanfield attempts to open a valve on a barrel, unleashing fluid that overwhelms a flame and spreads light around the room. "This room hasn't been touched in centuries..." BECAUSE IT'S A SEANCE ROOM! Unfortunately, Owen Wilson seems to have forgotten is lucky crucifix, and finally we see the spirit of Danny DeVito.

A ghost appears in the mirror, strange things start happening all around the house, someone is thrown back with a splash of water and then ... THE HITCHHIKING GHOSTS APPEAR! Our trio try to figure out just what's happening in this haunted mansion, while meeting all of the sneaky inhabitants, which may or may not include Jared Leto as the Hat Box Ghost.

The footage also confirms that funnyman Hasan Minhaj and is part of the cast, along with Winona Ryder and Dan Levy. But the real surprise came after the footage. Driving out in a ride car on stage, the queen of screams herself, Jamie Lee Curtis arrives. "There's one person we had to have, the queen of scary movies," Simien said. Anderton reported back that the footage looked like Disney's attempt at "The Haunting," a funny movie but with some serious spooky energy as well.

Here is the official synopsis for the upcoming film:

In this mysterious adventure, a doctor (Dawson) and her 9-year-old son (Dillon), looking to start a new life, move into a strangely affordable mansion in New Orleans, only to discover that the place is much more than they bargained for. Desperate for help, they contact a priest (Wilson), who, in turn, enlists the aid of a widowed scientist-turned failed-paranormal expert (Stanfield), a French Quarter psychic (Haddish), and a crotchety historian (DeVito).

"Haunted Mansion" will begin haunting theaters on March 10, 2023.