Hollywood on the Hill: Disney’s Biggest Gamble Ever–“Tron”



Josh Glick

It was a rough summer for Disney. Both of their films, The Prince of Persia and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, were extremely large flops. Both films were produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, were filled with big name stars and directors and had budgets of over $150 million. Neither film succeeded to make over $100 million in the U.S. While this loss of money is clearly an issue for Disney, who is staying afloat solely thanks to Pixar, the studio had a bigger problem with both of their films failing: no franchise appeal.

Today, every studio wants the next big franchise. Sequels always make more money than the original, even if they are terrible (Shrek!). Disney wanted one of their two summer films to be similar to the first Pirates of the Caribbean, an exciting and magical film that both kids and parents would like. Unfortunately, no one liked the Prince of Persia accept for 16-year old girls who liked looking at Jake Gyllenhaal’s biceps. The same cannot be said about Nicholas Cage. So where does this leave Disney? It leaves all their eggs in one basket: TRON: Legacy.

The TRON: Legacy website explains the plot as: Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund), a rebellious 27-year-old, is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a man once known as the leading video-game developer. When Sam investigates a strange signal sent from the abandoned Flynn’s Arcade – that could have only come from his father – he’s pulled into a world that Kevin has been trapped in for 20 years. With the help of the fearless warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life-or-death journey across a visually-stunning digital universe – created by Kevin himself – which has become far more advanced with never-before-imagined vehicles, weapons, and landscapes and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.

If you didn’t know most of this plot, though, you clearly do not watch TV or search the web as the trailer is everywhere, and it looks awesome. The story and animation makes me think that the film will be this year’s Avatar, as the audience will enter an entire new world. However, instead of blue people, trees and weird animals, the world of TRON is filled with incredible vehicles, neon lights and animations we could never have imagined. Joseph Kosinski is directing the film. Why have you never heard of him? Because the man that Disney is putting all their money on the table for has only directed video-game trailers. He directs all of the Halo and Gears of War trailers. The move to put an entire franchise on Kosinski was a bold decision. He has no experience working with such a large cast, budget and production. However, TRON is supposed to be one large computer game, thus it makes perfect sense. Early word is that Kosinski has been doing an incredible job, and by the look of the trailers animation, we can see why.

The film’s cast is very strong with Jeff Bridges coming off an Oscar, Olivia Wilde being as hot (physically and businesswise) as she is and Garret Hedlund getting ready to break out as the star of the year. Hedlund turned down the role of Captain America for TRON, a decision everyone questioned at the time. If the film goes the way Disney is now projecting, Hedlund will be the star of the year.

We haven’t even discussed the coolest part of the film. As I am writing this article I am listening to one of the best house music bands in the world, Daft Punk. Why? They are doing the entire music for the film. In fact, in a recent interview with the director Kosinski, he jokingly claimed that TRON is just a two-hour long Daft Punk music video. While many films have the same composer such as Hans Zimmer or John Williams, this is the first Hollywood film to let a house music band (or what my dad likes to call Techno) do the entire soundtrack. Listening to the early released tracks, the soundtrack will be one of the best parts of the film.

On paper, everything about this movie is saying it should be a hit. It will be innovative, entertaining, family-friendly and visually stunning. Disney has already been in talks with Kosinksi for two more TRON films. In fact, Disney is now so confident they are opening TRON stores all around L.A., doing weekly TRON lighting and firework shows, promoting Daft Punk concerts and the kicker: they are in plans of opening a TRON world in their theme park California Adventure. If the film is as good as Disney says it is, sign me up to ride the TRON coaster as long as Daft Punk is playing in the background.