Disney has tapped Dear White People creator Justin Simien to direct its Haunted Mansion movie based on the studio’s iconic theme park attraction.
Deadline broke the news, reporting that Ghostbusters scribe Katie Dippold wrote the script. Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich will produce via their company Rideback, whose Nick Reynolds will serve as an executive producer. Lin and Eirich previously produced Disney‘s live-action Aladdin movie, which grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
The Haunted Mansion ride made its Disney World debut in 1969 and quickly became a popular attraction known for its Hatbox Ghost. Disney previously turned the ride into a 2003 movie starring Eddie Murphy that grossed $182 million worldwide, but it failed to meet the studio’s expectations and isn’t fondly remembered by Disney fans, as the film clocks in at just 14 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Simien‘s take is said to be completely different than the approach Disney took to the property 20 years ago, and seeing as how Simien is a writer himself, I’d expect him to do his own pass on Dippold‘s script. Disney is high on Simien, who’s also working on a Lando Calrissian series for Disney+.
Simien actually has genre roots, having most recently directed the horror movie Bad Hair, which Hulu acquired following its buzzy Sundance premiere. Still, Simien is best known for writing, directing and producing the Sundance darling Dear White People, which spawned a Netflix series of the same name. Simien created the show and serves as executive producer on the series, which is currently in production on Season 4.
Disney has long sought to exploit its high-profile theme park attractions and turn them into movies and TV shows, with The Haunted Mansion at the top of the list given its cast of characters and spooky mythology. The studio has already reaped the rewards of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, though its Tomorrowland movie didn’t fare quite as well at the box office. Up next is Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.