In July of 2003, the unthinkable happened. Disney Pictures released a film based on a theme park ride that was not only a smash hit, it was also pretty darn good. Telling a fanciful tale of cursed Aztec gold, wicked undead pirate scallywags, a reluctant hero straight out of Joseph Campbell, the love of his life, and Johnny Depp wearing eyeliner, this was a movie that captured the imaginations of audiences around the world. Being a young impressionable high school student at the time of its release, I found myself returning to the theaters to see it numerous times. I was living in a beach town for the summer, working a shit job, and the old moviehouse that showed one movie a night kept bringing it back due to its popularity. It was the first movie I can recall going to over and over because of how much fun it was. It had set out to turn a theme park ride into a movie, but in reality they had just made a movie that was like a theme park ride in how it moved. It had ups and downs, twists and turns, and at the end left you wanting to do it all over again.
Disney is no dummy when it comes to making money, so when the film was clearly a huge success; it was clear what had to be done. Sequels, and plenty of them. Disney green lit two sequels almost immediately, and after some discussion, it was decided that these two entries in what would be a trilogy would be shot back to back. This would be one of the few Hollywood franchises to do this (along with Back to the Future and The Matrix)
To most, I am a film nerd. I go to film school, I work at an art house theater, I am often seen taking in the latest big movie at the local megaplex, and I write for a few movie sites, including this fine establishment now. This however isn’t the full picture of me. If you were to ask anyone who really knows me, they might tell you that I am also a Theme Park nut. It’s true. I prefer the term “enthusiast” but I digress. Since my first trip to Walt Disney World at the age of six, I was hooked on the concept of a place you could go and escape into highly themed lands of entertainment and adventure. My main passion is for Disney World, because you never forget your first, but since then I’ve come to enjoy places like Universal Studios and others as well.
Of course, these days, movies and theme parks go together like cookies and cream, especially at movie themed parks like Universal, Disney’s Hollywood Studio, WB Movie World, and parts of Six Flags, so it’s no wonder my two hobbies come together in such wonderful style. This has inspired me to take a look at movies that are inspired by theme parks. I am going to start with probably the most popular and famous of all, the Pirates of the Caribbean series.