“This mansion is unhinged.” That declaration, intoned by Owen Wilson in a trailer for “Haunted Mansion,” might also describe the otherworldly buzz for the Disney feature, due in theatres July 28.
Director Justin Simien ’05 (“Dear White People,” “Bad Hair”) seems totally at home bringing this “Mansion” to the masses.
“For me, there was something about that ride I felt was there in the script,” the Chapman grad said during last year’s D23 Expo in Anaheim. “It was funny and full of interesting characters, but it had a little bit of a dark edge to it. I just really related to it. It felt I knew how to make it. I felt like I understood New Orleans. And I’m a fanboy.”
Like many Chapman students and alumni, Simien’s connection to Disney includes a summer gig at Disneyland during his formative years.
“Anytime I wasn’t working on the ride I was supposed to, I’d ride Pirates and my favorite ride, Haunted Mansion,” he said.
Now Simien gets to guide his favorite ride to the screen as he also coaxes out the best in a dream cast, which includes Rosario Dawson, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Tiffany Haddish and LaKeith Stanfield.
“I felt I understood the ride, and I had a responsibility to make sure all the details – all the little easter eggs – are there because I’m a nerd for real,” he said.