Once Upon a Time (“a Time” being 2010), Jon Favreau signed on to direct Magic Kingdom. The overall premise was that a family went to Disneyland and all of the attractions came to life and started interacting. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) came on to write the screenplay, but then the project got stuck in development hell. Favreau decided to pursue the more personal story Chef and then went to The Jungle Book.
But he hasn’t given up on Magic Kingdom, and at the press junket for Jungle Book, Steve Weintraub got an update on the project:
What’s the status of Magic Kingdom?
JON FAVREAU: Well hopefully now with this collaboration if it works out well we can explore what Magic Kingdom could be. Magic Kingdom is a story I’ve been developing. Michael Chabon wrote the draft about Disneyland coming to life, and all of the different lands and attractions all overlapping one another and creating a big adventure that a family gets caught up in. It’s something I feel very passionate about. Part of the reason I explored this technology I used on Jungle Book is because I was considering it for that film, and maybe it might be something we work together on.
So it sounds like the project is still in the development stage, but it’s good to hear that Favreau hasn’t given up on it entirely. Magic Kingdom sounds like it could be a lot of fun, or it could be brand disaster. We’ve seen it go both ways when it comes to adaptations of Disneyland theme parks. There’s been Pirates of the Caribbean, but there’s also been Tomorrowland. It just depends on how sharp of a take Chabon and Favreau have on the material.
It’s also interesting to learn that the effects work on Jungle Book (which looks incredible from a VFX perspective) are being brought to bear on Favreau’s consideration for Magic Kingdom. I’ll be curious to see if the movie ever claws its way out of development hell or if it’s one we’ll keep asking Favreau about every time he has a new movie that isn’t set at the happiest place on Earth.