The 2003 Haunted Mansion movie stands out as pretty bad, even in a sea of middling Disney theme park ride movies—that oddly specific, yet well-populated genre. But one of the creators behind Kubo and the Two Strings pitched a pretty awesome-sounding reboot of the idea, that would’ve given it an animated twist.
Shannon Tindle, the character designer and writer who’s worked on everything from Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends to Laika’s animated epic Kubo and the Two Strings, shared a pitch animation for a cartoon reboot of Haunted Mansion over the weekend—featuring designs from Tindle himself, as well as animation from Matt Williames, backgrounds by Sunmin Inn, motion graphics from Daniel Hashimoto, and character color styling from Rachelle Reyes.
Sadly, the series never went beyond the initial pitch and Tindle has pulled the teaser—featuring Black-ish’s Marsai Martin as a young girl exploring the paintings of the titular mansion—to avoid any potential trouble with Disney. But the designer did reveal a few more details to Cartoon Brew about what he would’ve planned to do with the series had it actually been picked up by Disney:
My goal was to take inspiration from all the backstories created by the artists at WED [the name of Disney’s Imagineering division] and stitch it into one, giant narrative. The story would span several years and focus on different characters, but add up to one big, interconnected story.
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Honestly, TV series, especially animated ones, seem like the best avenue for Disney’s weird and occasionally charming desire to turn its park rides into alternate forms of media. It’s sad that Tindle’s Haunted Mansion never got off the ground, but hopefully there’s a future in Disney animation for more pitches like this, that actually make it to our screens.