EXCLUSIVE: Armed with a treatment by Big Fish scribe John August, Disney is now looking to hire a screenwriter to give feature treatment to Tower Of Terror, long one of the most popular rides in its theme parks. Jim Whitaker is producing this with August, after he and the A-list writer hatched an idea based on the theme park attraction and the studio sparked to their vision.
The premise: Five people in a posh hotel take an elevator and disappear after it is hit by lightning.
The theme park ride combines footage and narration by what sounds like the late Rod Serling doing a Twilight Zone episode, with a jaw-dropping elevator car that falls precipitously, and climbs back up. That classic anthology show isn’t part of this; indeed, it’s being developed as a freestanding movie at Warner Bros, produced by Appian Way with Joseph Kosinski. This will be a haunted house picture, and having a family brand tied to it might help it fare better than an original creation like Crimson Peak.
Tower of Terror was reportedly the very first theme park ride turned into a movie, but it was done for television in 1997 and starred Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst.
Tower Of Terror is not the only Disney theme park ride that has been sent screaming toward screens big and small. Aside from the Pirates Of The Caribbean film franchise that’s working on a fifth installment for a 2017 bow, there was this summer’s underperformer Tomorrowland (casually based on the Disney parks’ version), and the long-in-the-works Jungle Cruise movie that now has Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson attached to star.
On the TV side, there was a pilot at ABC in 2013 based on Thunder Mountain.