Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Disney Film I Want To See

The hot news out of the Walt Disney Company lately is the distribution deal that the Mouse signed with Dreamworks, which means that Steven Spielberg will soon be making films for Disney. Obviously, for someone who’s interested in Disney films like me, this really is big news.

Jim Hill today has the hot rumor, that Spielberg’s first film will be a bio pic about Abraham Lincoln, starring Liam Neeson. I can do nothing but applaud this idea, because Lincoln is one of the most fascinating figures in American history. If anyone’s been reading about him and watching CNN today, you know what I mean.

But to my mind, there is a more important film waiting for the Walt Disney Company that simply needs to be made. It’s a film that could vie for Oscars, which would be a welcome return to prominence for the Walt Disney Studio, which has been sparse on Oscar nods recently. And it’s also a biopic. The subject?

That’s right, Walt Disney. True confessions time – I have long harbored the desire to write a screenplay for a Disney biopic, and may still do so someday, but ultimately, I just want to see this film get made.

Think about the possibilities. There are so many interesting settings for a Disney biography that would come across magnificently on film – Chicago and Kansas City during the gaslight era, World War I Europe, rural Marceline, the emerging Hollywood, South America and more. It’s a director’s dream.

Plus, there is no lack of conflict and story to be mined in Walt’s life. The question would be what to cut? Imagine the possibilities of a big screen version of the famous story session where Walt gathered all the animators and told them the story of Snow White.

Or what about things like the 1964 World’s Fair, the opening of Disneyland, Walt’s South American trip, the conflict with Ub Iwerks, and so much more? All of it would be amazing on the silver screen. And even better, it would surprise most audiences who don’t know all the amazing details of Disney’s life.

I have to admit, I have the perfect guy in mind for this part. Best of all, he works with Disney a lot these days, and he’s an Oscar worthy actor.

Can’t you imagine Johnny Depp as Walt? One of our greatest living actors portraying the role of a lifetime, playing a creative genius. It could be absolutely amazing. So what do you guys think? Is it time for a Walt Disney movie? I’ll start writing today, if you want, Bob Iger.


  1. I'd love to see a biopic on Disney. Unfortunately, as we talked earlier with the dichotomy of Disney from saint to sinner, I don't think the Disney Company would be too co-operative unless it was a complete hagiography. As with Charles Schulz he has way too many people invested in making sure no stain is ever applied to his name. Sadly, because the real Disney was a fascinating character.

    The first thing that (facietiously, of course) came to my mind when you mentioned Johnny Depp, though, was "Ryan ... why don't you take a little break and lay off the juice a bit." But the more I think about it, the more I think it could really work. Depp has always been one who could tackle a variety of roles; see how easily he went from John Waters' "Cry-Baby" to Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands." And if he could pull off a credible Ed Wood, I think he could be tremendous as Disney.

  2. Ed Wood is exactly the role that brought Depp to mind. The thought of him in that film as the young eager director brought to mind the young Walt Disney starting in Hollywood.

    I agree, though, that the company has no interest in portraying a warts and all portrait of their founder. Too bad, really.


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