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Uncover the Secrets of Brad Bird’s ‘Tomorrowland’ Archive With Disney Expert

Written by on February 5, 2013 

Despite nearly two years to go before Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof’s highly secretive blockbuster Tomorrowland hits theaters, the viral gears are already turning for the Disney project. Late last month Bird himself revealed a mystery box for the film, when we only referred to it as 1952, and now some clues are starting to come together for the George Clooney-led sci-fi project.

D23 recently turned to Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline for some insight on the materials in the box and while she does a strong job highlighting each and every one, a major one stood out in my mind. The photos one can see on the top features Walt Disney and Major Woodlief of the U.S. Army Reserve General Fund, taken back in September 1943 after Disney worked closely with the United States government and military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While I doubt Bird would drop any major plot hints early on, it perhaps give us a general idea of what we may expect. Check out the first six clues below, but head over to the site for the rest.

1. From the age, type, and conditions of the items I can see, I feel that the materials in the box were gathered together for a project from the past. Perhaps as research for a science-fiction-themed film, television, or park attraction, or even a futurism project like Walt’s vision of EPCOT.

2. It looks like someone reused an old banker’s box from another Disney production. We don’t use this style of boxes anymore at the studio. There is another sticker on the cover of the box, but the text on the picture is obscured.

3. Someone put tape over the original production label and hand wrote “1952″ in pen—the brevity of the title and the fact that it’s handwritten sounds to me like it’s probably a working title. Both the studio and WED often used working titles before they came up with a final title of the project. “The Concert Feature” was what they called Fantasia before they decided upon a final name for example.

4. On the top there are some old photos. The three that I can see are of Walt with visitors, probably taken here at the studio. The one on top is in our photo collection and I was able to identify the man with him as Major Woodlief of the U.S. Army Reserve General Fund. It was taken in September 1943. The Disney Studio worked closely with the United States government and military soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force elements were stationed at the Lot for the duration of the war. I can’t identify the people in the other photos, but we have the negatives for the photos in our collection. They were taken in 1950.

5. There is a large manila envelope sealed with a loose sticker. It appears to have material in it, but we can only guess its contents. From the size and shape of the envelope, I would guess it might contain maps, brochures, or some other kind of folded documents.

6. The magazine that appears along with this curious collection of documents and objects provides more clues. It is a copy of the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories from August 1928. I got a closer look at the cover by looking it up online. It shows a man in flight wearing some sort of jet pack, powered by a hand-controlled device of some sort. After doing a little more research, I discovered that the cover story of that particular issue is the serialized novel The Skylark of Space, written by Elmer Edward “Doc” Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby. Walt was always interested in futurism and flight especially in the 1950s and early ’60s; in fact, for Disneyland’s Tencennial Celebration in 1965, he actually had a man fly down Main Street, U.S.A. with a jet pack. The man also did flight demonstrations in Tomorrowland in the Flight Circle.

Check out the rest of the clues here. Tommorowland opens on December 19th, 2014.

What do you make of the clues?

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