Disney’s ‘Haunted Mansion’ Pic Finds Its Director In ‘Dear White People’ Helmer Justin Simien

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Justin Kroll
·2 min read
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EXCLUSIVE: Disney’s latest film revolving around its iconic Haunted Mansion theme park attraction is gaining more life as the studio is in negotiations Justin Simien to direct the new movie based on the ride. Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, who produced the live-action hit Aladdin, are producing through their Rideback banner with Nick Reynolds of Rideback exec producing. Katie Dippold penned the most recent draft.

The Haunted Mansion ride debuted in 1969 and favorite of park goers since then with it appearing currently in both Disney Land and Disney World. The premise sees theme park guests go inside a spooky and creepy manor that includes some classic characters like the spirit of psychic medium Madame Leota to the skeletal Bride to the cloaked Hatbox Ghost.

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Disney previously adapted the ride into a 2003 movie directed by Rob Minkoff and starring Eddie Murphy and was a moderate success at the box-office. Similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, another theme park ride that became a massive box-office smash, execs have always seen this as a piece of Disney IP that is recognizable to so many people across the world but also makes for something can be easier to adapt as a movie compared to other theme park rides.

Insiders say this will be a completely different take as a film that stands on its own. Disney has wanted to work with Simien for some time, with him meeting on several other projects before settling on this one following his recent pitch on how he envisioned the story going.

As for Simien, he has been a rising star among his peers following his critically acclaimed Sundance darling Dear White People, which he wrote, produced and directed. The film was so well received, Netflix would go on to adapt it into a TV series with Siemen serving as creator and exec producer. That show is currently in production in its fourth season.

He would follow that up with another huge Sundance hit Bad Hair, which Hulu moved quickly to acquire, with that bowing on the service last October. He is repped by CAA, Grandview and Gordon Bobb at Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.

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