Friday, March 5, 2010

[Movies] The Return of TRON

Sorry for the late start today. The combination of Karate last night plus cooking with the kindergartners this morning (oatmeal apple crisp! My kid won't eat it, I bet.) just threw me all off. I'm heading down to the dungeon to write, but thought I'd attempt to meet my self-imposed blogging obligations first.

Some pre-article updates, first:

* Part 5 of my 5-part series on business travel is still en route. Its ETA is Monday.
* Work on my novel has barely progressed this week, however my short story, titled "The Songbirds of Arroyoverde," is complete in draft form. My wife read it over for me, but didn't tear it apart nearly as much as I needed her to. I'm often not as thrilled with my work as my readers tend to be (which in the grand scheme of things isn't terrible or terribly unusual for a writer, so I'm told), but I'm rather convinced at the moment that this thing is borderline crap. I'm looking forward to getting feedback about it at the Writer's Roundtable on Monday. My goal is to submit it to John Joseph Adams by the end of March for his anthology of wizard short stories, "The Way of the Wizard." I'm feeling like it's going to need to be substantively improved from its current state if it's going to have a shot at acceptance, but we'll see how that goes. As I'd mentioned before, I ended up with quite a bevy of wizard-oriented story ideas that I was reasonably happy with, so if I don't make it into this anthology I may need to write my own at some later date. WAR! and all that.
* My playing of the intro to "Dust in the Wind" is proceeding rather nicely, to the point where it actually sounds like music if you tilt your head just so while you listen. "Sunshine on my Shoulders" also isn't terrible, except for the places where I need to achieve a B-minor 5th string root barre chord. Then, for two beats, it sounds approximately like I'd imagine somebody killing a cat with the insides of a piano. Poor kitty.
* While I'm by no means "in shape," I have made it all the way through the last few karate classes without having to go sit down somewhere and gasp for breath. I'm now able to stand and gasp for breath, which I count as a huge improvement.

All right, then, on to Tron. I've mentioned both the old and new Tron movies quite a few times here before, as it's a personal favorite. I talk about it in 101 Sci-Fi Movies You Must See Before You Die, in The Movie Theatre I Grew Up In, and originally in Color me thrilled (the color of thrilled is neon blue). I also mentioned my anticipation of the new movie in my 2010 movie preview article Back… To the Future. I won't rehash my love of the original or even (too much) my anticipation of the sequel later this year. Though I'll mention that I bought a copy of the original novelization to replace mine (which inexplicably disappeared from my library sometime in the last 25 years).

What I thought I'd mention instead is that the viral marketing for this movie has begun to kick into gear, and Disney has started to hint at plans for other goings-on if the movie is successful. Over at the site, they had an event last week at major cities around the world that turned out to be a preview of the movie's trailer. Surprisingly, that trailer's still not available online, but from the write-ups (some very detailed, like this one), it sounds great and the reaction has been generally positive, at least from fans who'd be inclined to like it. As I wrote on one forum:

It's funny, Tron has become a real cult-classic, but seems to get very little respect outside the circle of nerd-fans who love and fondly remember the original. Yet the rumors and excitement-level for this film, online anyway, are running very high. I suppose that's not a big surprise - where else are you likely to find those folks who adored the original than on the Internet, right? I mean, the only arcades left are full of Dance Dance Revolution games and ski-ball. They're not hanging out there.
Over at Blue Sky Disney, in an article I found thanks to io9, they're about as upbeat about Tron's future as I've ever heard. Here are some key quotes from the article:

If all goes according to plan you could see this as the first in a trilogy of films that start with the word "Tron" and end somewhere else... Legacy is only the beginning. There are preliminary plans to milk this into a franchise of "Pirate" proportions.
"Pirate proportions" is a reference of course to the hugely successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy, wherein Disney took one of their antique properties (in this case a ride that opened in March of 1967) and turned it into a series of blockbuster movies. Clearly, they hope to do the same with this property. But more movies are NOT all:

plans have been put into motion for a computer animated television series that could conceivably be up by late 2011/early 2012. This would be something of a placeholder to keep the fans interest still peaked in between this first film and the next one.
A pilot has been greenlit according to Blue Sky Disney. So we're up to as many as three more films PLUS an animated TV series. Done yet? Nope! How about pulling the Magic Kingdom itself into the digital world?

Expect Tomorrowland to be filled with all things Tron. And some of the areas are being talked about getting "thematic" makeovers.  Should it get approved, you might get to see the arcade next to Space Mountain turned into a variation of "Flynn's Arcade." there's the talk of a Tron attraction at Disneyland and various other theme parks. WDI is working on concepts for a Tron experience, but don't expect a fully immersive Tron Legacy attraction by the time the film opens. Any attraction wouldn't be seen in Tommowland until 2012 at the earliest. Imagineers are working to create an impressive addition to the already talked about elaborate expansion of Disneyland for the sixtieth anniversary.
Hopefully some of that will find its way to Disney World, too, as I don't expect to haul the kids to Los Angeles anytime... well, ever. I'm not familiar with Blue Sky Disney enough to know how reliable their sources are, but all of this sure sounds great. It's of course dependent upon the success of the first film in the series pulling in big money and big interest.

My thought, though, and I don't pretend to have come up with this idea all by my lonesome or anything, is that TRON lends itself incredibly well to a Multiplayer Online Game like Word of Warcraft. For starters, there was already the truly excellent TRON 2.0 PC game a few years back, so we know that the movie world of the gaming world translates well into an actual game. Because it's meant to represent the insides of the world's computer networks, it lends itself extremely well to things like leveling up your character (version upgrades), enemy factions (the reds vs the blues, for instance), natural enemies (like computer viruses) and dungeons (protected networks). I'm frankly somewhat amazed that Disney hasn't created this product already and if the resurgence of TRON ends up being a big money-maker for them, I'll continue to be astounded if they don't end up running with the idea. Personally, I'd prefer that they make another TRON-based PC game, but I think they could make way more money off of a persistent world.

 Regardless, it's really gratifying to see the new generation getting some exposure to a film that I consider to be a classic. TRON explored computer technology and the virtual world at a time when we'd barely finished the transition from punch-cards to floppy disks. I think it was very much ahead of its time in many ways. If the makers of the new film can be as daring and prophetic and insightful while still telling an entertaining, action-packed movie, they deserve to have a huge hit that branches out into all of Disney's many markets.

I plan to keep an eye on the marketing for this one and I really can't wait to get my 3D glasses on and plunk down in the theater with my popcorn and my diet soda to watch the new TRON blaze a light-trail into the 21st century. Actually, I could do without the 3D part, but I still really want to see the movie.

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