June 18, 2024

Disney Making Club 33 Murder Mystery Movie

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Disney is working on a film featuring the Club 33, the exclusive and historic membership restaurant at Disneyland where Walt Disney intended to host VIPs and corporate sponsors, which has since expanded to Tokyo and




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Disney is working on a film featuring the Club 33, the exclusive and historic membership restaurant at Disneyland where Walt Disney intended to host VIPs and corporate sponsors, which has since expanded to Tokyo and Shanghai, along with lounges in Florida. This post covers the adaptation, the latest in a line of movies based on theme park IP.

According to an exclusive in The Hollywood Reporter, the Club 33 movie script is being written by Darren Lemke, who has worked on such family films as Goosebumps starring Jack Black and Shazam! Director Shawn Levy, Dan Levine and Dan Cohen are producing through 21 Laps Entertainment, the banner behind Stranger Things and the recent Holocaust drama All The Light We Cannot See.

Lemke is also well-known in the family feature space. On top of the Goosebumps franchise and Shazam!, he worked on DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek Forever After and Turbo. Most recently, he earned a credit on Kung Fu Panda 4. Lemke also serves as an executive producer on Wheel of Time, the Amazon Prime series that adapts the fantasy books by Robert Jordan.

21 Laps recently earned a PGA nomination for All the Light We Cannot See, which adapts the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Anthony Doerr. The company has Never Let Go, a sci-fi horror movie starring Halle Berry releasing September 27 from Lionsgate, and Levy is about to start the extensive press tour for Deadpool & Wolverine, which he directed and co-wrote.

The Club 33 project is said to exude the tone and vibes of Clue and Night at the Museum, Levy’s own fantasy-adventure trilogy set in a museum and featuring exhibits and historical figures to come to life. (I didn’t even realize this, but an animated sequel, Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again, was released on the Disney+ streaming service, apparently? Not only that, but it’s the highest-rated film in the franchise, with a 71% Rotten Tomatoes score?!)

The story centers on Kim, a young aspiring detective living in present-day New York, who receives a mysterious invite to the highly secretive Club 33. In the movie adaptation, it’s said to be a magical and exclusive dining club that exists outside of time and space. The club’s members are the greatest and most iconic members from the past: geniuses, royalty and history-makers. When a murder is committed on the premises, the patrons look to Kim to solve it.

Turning to commentary, I’m a little reluctant to get too excited about this reported Club 33 murder mystery movie project. There have been several theme park IP adaptations announced or rumored over the last several years, and many of those are still in development purgatory or have been cancelled completely.

There are (or were?) projects in the pipeline based on the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (okay, technically that’s a remake–but still), Seth Rogen’s take on Figment, and others I’m probably forgetting.

At one point, Disney+ even looked to launch a franchise centered around the Disney Park’s and dubbed it the “Magic Kingdom Universe.” Guess they were hoping lightning would strike twice and it could be something akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Anyway, I’ve stopped anxiously awaiting updates about most of these because it’s likely at least some will never see the light of day.

That’s understandable. As CEO Bob Iger has conceded on several occasions, the company overspent on its Disney+ streaming service to create a deluge of content, and quality suffered as a result. While I don’t necessarily want less content, I do want higher quality shows and movies. If that means less, so be it. I assume at least some of those previously-announced projects will be victims of the cutbacks and renewed emphasis on quality. Hard to imagine every film or series script based on a couple minute long roller coaster would be a winner.

What’s promising about this Club 33 project is that the report comes after all of Iger’s comments. Meaning that they’ve already made content cuts, and this was cream that came to the top.

Honestly, that makes sense to me! While I question just how much material there is in Space Mountain to lend itself to an adaptation, Club 33 actually strikes me as the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery. The restaurant itself has a rich history and name cachet, and is also ominous and has a lot of unknowns about it.

To that point, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Club 33 has been the subject of a lot of conspiracy theories over the last several years. I know this because if you Google “Club 33 History,” this article of ours is one of the top results. That post has received a lot of comments since 2020 addressing these conspiracies, almost none of which have made it through the moderation filters because…even for the internet, they’re pretty shocking. (Someone should give these folks Creedthoughts accounts instead.)

I wish I were kidding, but I am not kidding. A lot of people believe truly scandalous and unsettling things about Club 33. I do not recommend going down that rabbit hole unless you’re prepared to be deeply disturbed. Against my better judgment, I have gone down that rabbit hole.

We kept getting comments or tagged on social media in posts that didn’t really make sense to me (conspiracies seem to have their own code or internal logic), so I wanted to understand them better. I do understand them better, so I guess that’s something…but they still don’t make any sense unless you buy into some preposterous premises.

Anyway, I mention this because if a bunch of armchair conspiracy theorists on Facebook can weave together extensive lore for Club 33, then actual writers can presumably put together an even better backstory. And one grounded in historical fact. Oh, and I mention it because those same conspiracy theorists will probably come up with a new conspiracy to explain why Disney is making this movie–to bury the “truth” or something of that sort.

Beyond all that, this potential Club 33 project has my attention because I love the murder mystery genre. Clue, Gosford Park, Knives Out, pretty much anything by David Lynch, and Only Murders in the Building are good examples of the type of movie this could be. Based on the description, it also sounds a bit like The Twilight Zone and even the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

My guess is that it won’t have the same ‘adult’ quality or sophistication as any of those, but will instead be ‘Disneyfied’ or have that forgettable ‘streaming’ quality to it. That’s not just a Disney+ thing–in fact, I’d say Netflix pioneered the “art” of the movie or show that’s completely watchable, but ultimately so unassuming and formulaic that you completely forget you watched it within 48 hours. (I swear this is a thing–that, or I’m getting old and literally forget what I’ve seen only days later, and start rewatching the same movie only to realize, 5 minutes in, that I’ve already seen this.) But I digress.

Hopefully the Club 33 murder mystery movie is actually good. I’m not suggesting it needs nudity, profanity or whatever–like some HBO project. I just want a dumbed-down movie that isn’t paint by numbers with a script that sounds like it were drafted by committee to be as vanilla as possible and edited by ChatGPT.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that this is yet another example of the studio side of Disney adapting original theme parks IP. Less than a week ago, CEO Bob Iger was talking about how “almost all” of the company’s $60 billion investment in the parks over the next decade would be based on popular intellectual property from the movies.

As we pointed out in “Is Anyone Surprised Disney’s $60 Billion Park Investments Will Be ‘Almost All’ IP?,” there should be a balance. We are certainly not anti-synergy or against areas and attractions based on movies. To the contrary, there are some lands and rides that only really resonate thanks to the movie connection. ‘Stepping into a movie in real life’ can be a special and truly emotional experience. That’s hard to deny.

But the Disney flywheel can (and has) cut in both directions! New franchises and brands have to be born somewhere, and there won’t even be the opportunity for this type of theme park inspired movie in the future if nothing original is built in the parks. They’ll have exhausted everything original–the parks-to-screen pipeline will dry up unless more original additions are built at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Oh, and if everything goes well with this Club 33 movie, it’ll raise awareness and demand for the exclusive membership, giving Disney reason to build more restaurants and lounges, selling more memberships in a full circle kinda deal. I guess that’s yet another reason why Imagineers should be given the creative freedom and healthy budgets to create memorable new theme park offerings that could be the basis for a hit movie or series down the road.

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you expect from a Club 33 murder mystery movie? Are you excited? Skeptical? A little of both? Think this film will actual get made, or end up being the victim of budget cuts like other streaming and studio projects? Any other thoughts, insights, etc? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!




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