Robert Zemeckis has made some remarkable films over the years and he has even hinted at making another one of my favorites, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But this year, he is focused on a tale a bit older than that, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Disney is pulling out all the whistle stops and taking its show on the road with a spectacular immersive and interactive 40-city train tour including a 3D sneak peek of film footage from the upcoming movie “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” it was announced today (05/08/09) by Dick Cook, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. Set amidst a snowy backdrop—complete with all of the sights and sounds of Christmas including carolers, decorations, giveaways and many more surprises in each of the 40 cities—the Train Tour is being launched with HP on board as the title and technology sponsor and driven by Amtrak. This family event is for guests of all ages and is free to the public.
Starring Jim Carrey and directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” opens in theatres November 6 in Disney Digital 3D™ and in IMAX 3D®.
Commenting on the announcement, Cook said, “‘Disney’s A Christmas Carol’ Train Tour is an incredibly fun way to introduce families across the country to the wonders and spectacle that is Robert Zemeckis’ unique and spectacular new holiday film. We are so proud of the movie, and think the 3D footage is so incredible, we just had to give everyone a chance to see it in Disney Digital 3D. From Los Angeles to New York, and all points in between, guests are going to have a fabulous time discovering things about the making of this extraordinary film, participating in their own festive fantasies, and getting into the holiday spirit all year round. ‘Disney’s A Christmas Carol’ is great entertainment for moviegoers of all ages, and this is the perfect introduction to a fun and exciting new holiday classic.”
Among the highlights of the tour are authentic artifacts on loan from the Charles Dickens Museum of London; artwork, costumes and props from the film; demonstrations of performance capture technology; and a chance to morph your face into one of the film’s characters using HP TouchSmart PCs. At each stop along the way, a state-of-the-art Disney Digital 3D Theatre will be erected, where guests can get a sneak peek of “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” and see other exclusive behind-the-scenes materials from the movie. The latest details about tour stops and scheduled events are available at www.christmascaroltraintour.com.
Featuring four custom-designed vintage rail cars full of behind-the-scenes attractions, entertaining demonstrations, and fun activities, the tour will have its inaugural stop at Los Angeles’ Union Station over Memorial Day Weekend, from May 22nd through May 25th. During the next 24 weeks, the train will make 40 stops in 36 states, as it travels its way across more than 16,000 miles of track. The tour will finish at New York’s Grand Central Terminal over the weekend of October 30th through November 1st.
At every tour stop, Radio Disney will invite kids to enter for a chance to become a Movie Surfer representing their hometown. Each Hometown Movie Surfer will get a chance to appear on Disney Channel by filming their very own Movie Surfer’s segment! They’ll also receive a prize package of exclusive Movie Surfer and “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” gear.
ABC television stations across the country will run local promotions. At each stop, guests will have the chance to win an HP TouchSmart PC and an HP Photosmart wireless printer. Additionally, Disney is working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America organization to provide an early Christmas experience to kids across the country. Disney will present the organization with a donation in the amount of $100,000 at the May 21st launch in Los Angeles to further the organization’s efforts of helping kids grow up to be great and will invite Boys & Girls Club kids to be part of the tour when it comes to their town. Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the nation are impacting the lives of 4.8 million young people each year with after- school programs that emphasize education, career exploration, community service, technology skills, financial literacy, the arts and more to help them reach their full potential as productive, caring citizens.
A variety of innovative HP technologies helped to make the Train Tour possible. HP ProLiant servers and HP ProCurve switches will provide Disney with the computing power that will allow guests to collect and upload photos. Throughout the train exhibits, Disney is using HP TouchSmart PCs to run an interactive face morph application and HP monitors to showcase performance capture technology as well as images and digital effects from the film. Additionally, each train car will be wrapped with Disney’s Train Tour logo using the versatility of HP Scitex printers.
“For decades HP and Disney have joined together to captivate audiences through technology innovation and digital entertainment,” said Michael Mendenhall, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, HP. “HP technology used in the making of ‘Disney’s A Christmas Carol’ has enabled Disney to push the boundaries in performance capture technology. The Train Tour offers an innovative way for guests to interact with HP’s latest technology and experience the magic behind the film.”
Amtrak locomotives and engineers will lead the four-car Train Tour (plus a private car), across the US, with stops ranging from 1-3 days along the way. Each train station will be themed with holiday decorations, and feature artwork from the film, Christmas Carolers, fun activities for the entire family, and snow!
“Rail travel continues to influence the way people connect with each other and celebrating the release of a true classic is a perfect way to further that connection,” said Emmett Fremaux, Vice President Marketing and Product Management, Amtrak. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be teaming up with Walt Disney Studios for this 40 city tour to help educate Americans about the benefit of rail travel.”
Dolby Laboratories will be supplying its Dolby® 3D Digital Cinema solution for the traveling Digital 3D theater, and Barco is providing the DP2000 digital projectors. Panasonic provides some of the latest high resolution large screen technology available to consumers today throughout the train cars. And, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is encouraging guests traveling to and from the train to Buckle Up, Every Trip, Every Time!
About the Movie
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” a multi-sensory thrill ride re-envisioned by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, captures the fantastical essence of the classic Dickens tale in a groundbreaking, performance-capture 3D motion picture event. Ebeneezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) begins the holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk (Gary Oldman) and his cheery nephew (Colin Firth). But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey, revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it’s too late. Through the magic of performance-capture technology, Jim Carrey tackles seven roles, including Scrooge and all of the Christmas spirits.
Wrapping it up
You can keep a watch on the developments with this film at their website. I think the animation technique is an interesting one that Disney is exploring, but contrasting with another holiday film, The Princess and the Frog, I am a fan of the latter – traditionally hand-drawn animation. Having said that, I look forward to seeing both this coming winter.