Image via Disney
With reviews like “neither scary nor funny” and “as lifeless as the ghosts in the movie” on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s easy to see why filmmaker Justin Simien would want to set his version of Haunted Mansion apart from the one starring Eddie Murphy.
Twenty years ago, Eddie Murphy and director Rob Minkoff released the supernatural horror comedy film based on Walt Disney’s theme park attraction of the same name to an audience with mixed reviews. Some critics felt the film missed the suspense and mystery of the ride in favor of cheap laughs.
Now, director Justin Simien has revealed to Entertainment Weekly that he studied Murphy’s 2003 Haunted Mansion film to refine his approach to bringing the classic Disney ride to life. The director of Dear White People discussed the upcoming movie, which is set for a U.S. release on July 28, 2023, saying:
I had a little bit of beef with the first film, because the first thing you’ve got to give the kids is the candy of the mansion that they know and love.
On March 2, fans got their first look at the remake of Haunted Mansion thanks to a spooky teaser trailer. It follows Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her young son Travis (Chase W. Dillon) as they move into a new house and experience weird happenings. To understand the haunting, they consult a priest with lofty goals (Owen Wilson), a down-on-his-luck tour guide (LaKeith Stanfield), and a sage medium (Tiffany Haddish).
The filmmaker also explained to Entertainment Weekly the painstaking process by which he altered elements from the original rides, some of which can be experienced today at Disneyland and Disney World.
You really do meet the mansion the way you would as a guest at the park. You meet it through the eyes of a new cast exploring the lore along with you.
U.S.-born Justin Simien has worked in film, on stage, and in print. At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, his debut feature, Dear White People, was honored with the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. A TV series with the same name premiered on Netflix in 2017 and ran for three seasons.