Disney's A Christmas Carol Train Tour is now in the home stretch. After today's stop in the Amtrak Station in Jacksonville, FL., this rolling promotion for Walt Disney Pictures' next Digital 3D release has only three cities left on its 40-city itinerary: Charleston, SC (October 23 - 25), Philadelphia, PA (October 27) and New York City (October 30 - November 1).
So, of course, you'd think that -- now that ads for "Disney's A Christmas Carol" have begun airing on television -- that those who tour this traveling exhibit for Robert Zemeckis' latest film would have a better sense of what to expect. But that really isn't the case.
You see, all of the commercials that are currently playing on TV here in the US play up "A Christmas Carol" 's more comic moments. So when people see Jim Carrey's version of Ebenezer Scrooge being hit in the face by giant icicles ... Well, that's what these folks expect when they enter that inflatable 3D Theater that Disney has been hauling from city-to-city on the Christmas Carol Train Tour. A comical holiday romp.
The only problem is ... That's not
the "Christmas Carol" that Zemeckis set out to make.
In his introduction for Diana Landau's "The Art of Disney's A Christmas Carol" (Disney Editions, October 2009), Robert talks about how " ... I can't resist a great ghost story ... Finally we have the technology to bring (the ghosts that are showcased in this holiday story) to the screen as Dickens described ... With our CG tools (at ImagerMovers Digital) we can make the ghost as strange or enormous or terrifying as we want ..."
And though Zemeckis receives lots of recognition for his more life-affirming / family-friendly fare like "Forrest Gump," "Back to the Future" and "The Polar Express" ... As 1992's "Death Becomes Her
" and 2000's "What Lies Beneath
" (not to mention Robert's work as the executive producer of HBO's "Tales from the Crypt") proved, this Academy Award-winner just loves a good scare.
And the grislier the better. As is evidenced by that scene from "Disney's A Christmas Carol" that's been screened inside of the Digital 3D Theater all across this country. When that bandage around Jacob Marley's head comes loose. And this ghoul's jaw & tongue suddenly -- thanks to the far-too-detailed cinematic magic of Disney Digital 3D -- dangles right in the audience's face.
"So why are the TV commercials & movie trailers that have been prepped for the U.S. market trying to sell 'Disney's A Christmas Carol' as a comedy?," you ask. Because the Mouse's marketing staff believes that the best way to sell a new film is with humor. That laughter -- more than anything -- is what prompts American to buy movie tickets.
Whereas for the Japanese ... Well, they're far more likely to buy a ticket to a new movie if the TV commercials and/or film trailers for that release do a proper job of showcasing the characters that you'll meet, the emotions that you'll experience while watching this movie. Which is why the Japanese trailer for "Disney's A Christmas Carol" is decidedly different than the one that Mickey's marketeers prepared for American audiences. These ads actually give you a sense of how scary certain sections of this movie might be.
Anyway ... Getting back to the Christmas Carol Train Tour ... Those who have been checking out this film's Digital 3D preview in that inflatable theater have been coming out talking about that Jacob Marley footage. And not necessarily in a good way.
Said one tour insider:
"Yeah, we've been getting a lot of complaints about that sequence. Especially from parents who have taken small children into the theater. They say that there should have been some sort of advance warning about how intense that footage was going to be."
Well, now that "Disney's A Christmas Carol" has officially been rated PG (Because the MPAA recently decided that some of the material in this Robert Zemeckis movie "may not be suitable for children" due to "scary sequences and images"), that's really not an issue anymore. Disney can now put signage outside of the train tour's inflatable theater that actually informs parents about this movie's rating.