An eerie shade of blue pervades the mansion, and the smell of death is in the air. Ghouls and goblins lurk around every corner, and eerie music echoes through the halls. As the 999 ghosts of the mansion gather around to welcome one more, viewers will feel a heartwarming sense of nostalgia at the way Disney has brought their beloved ride to life.
Bursting at the seams with easter eggs, laughs, and amazing effects, ‘‘Haunted Mansion’’ is just what the audience wants from a movie based on a beloved attraction. The star-studded cast leads a meaningful story about grief and what brings people together in the faces of fear and tragedy. The story follows Ben, a skeptic who attempted to build a camera that can capture ghost activity. He is hired by a mother who lives in a supposedly haunted Louisiana mansion. He, along with an eccentric cast of spiritual “experts,” get trapped in the mansion and have to fight for their freedoms and expel the evil Hat Box ghost from the mansion. Don’t worry about the sappy (but heartwarming) plot: this film has some truly good scares accentuated by the effects a Disney budget can provide. However, one thing is amiss. If this film turned out well, why has no one seen it?
‘‘Haunted Mansion’’ was released on July 28. According to multiple sources, including but not limited to The New York Times, the first week box office was a cold $24.1 million. Compared to the ‘‘Barbie’’ movie’s first week box office of $500 million, the film failed miserably. By mid August, ‘‘Haunted Mansion’’ sat stagnant in theaters, demoted to the small theater while Warner Brother’s ‘‘Barbie’’ and Universal’s “Oppenheimer’’ reigned supreme in their huge IMax theaters.
While these movies are leagues apart in plot and similarities, they represent a bigger picture: the war between the three big studios and the historic downfall of Disney. Although “Haunted Mansion” turned out well, one can’t help but wonder if people aren’t seeing the film because of Disney’s recent failures in the theaters. The last four major Disney films failed dramatically in the box office. Have viewers given up on Disney? Maybe it’s something much simpler than that, such as a lack of proper advertising. Whatever it is, box office numbers don’t lie, and the recent years will go down in history as a low point for Disney.
A spooky tale of a haunted house, and a spooky decline in Disney’s box office numbers cloud this film’s quality in a haze of mystery. ‘‘Haunted Mansion’’ turned out great, a love letter to the classic Disney ride with a bit of a modern twist. Although the box office doesn’t reflect it, any fan of Disney or Disneyland will be pleasantly surprised by the movie, and feel a warm sense of familiarity at the story.
Though ‘‘Haunted Mansion’’ did not break the cold streak of Disney films right now, it does represent a change that could mean Disney is going in the right direction, with movies that feel more like a love letter to their inspiration and not poorly made cash grabs. Haunted Mansion will leave viewers screaming with delight, but check backseats on the way home… a wandering ghost may have hitched a ride!