I was recently on the set of Crimson Peak and spent most of my time at Guillermo's side bullshitting about all sorts of things, including Haunted Mansion. I'm gaga nutso obsessed with Haunted Mansion. Ever since I was 5 or 6 years old and stepped into that moldering sanctum and was scared to tears by the stretching room and hanging corpse I've been hooked.
Naturally, I asked about the movie and he told me pretty much the same thing he told Reddit. They just got in a draft that was good, but not quite right and he said he refuses to move forward until they nail the script.
I expressed my concern as a fan of the ride... I don't want them to make another misfire based on this rich mythology (and there is a lot of rich mythology in this attraction, way more so than Pirates of the Caribbean) and I also don't want it to be so popular and successful that they change the ride! One of the things I love about Haunted Mansion is that it is one of the only rides that's largely unchanged since it debuted. My parents had the same experience I had as a kid and, I hope, my future children will have. Pirates has been Johnny Deppified and while that animatronic looks really cool it's tainted the experience for me.
So, I'm both incredibly psyched and deathly afraid of a Haunted Mansion flick, but the optimist in me knows Guillermo worships the attraction even more than I do and I can't help but get excited to see his vision.
His full quote is below. Notice that he essentially announces Doug Jones will be playing The Hatbox Ghost should they ever find a script they like.
”Well, I spent 2 weeks ago, I went back to Disneyland with the executives with whom I am developing the screenplay. It's a hard screenplay to crack. We've done it a few times. We are on our third or fourth draft, with 2 different writing teams, and I think the main thing is to try to combine everything that is great about the ride into the movie, and to make it a really intense but with a sense of fun - just like the ride. It's a tough balance, and I would be happy to report if we had the screenplay. We always feel like we are very close, but not yet. We have developed 50-60 pieces of art, We've developed maquettes of the Hat Box Ghost, over the body and face of Doug Jones, but we have not succeeded yet in cracking the screenplay. I have to believe that Disney will make this movie as soon as we crack the screenplay, but until then we cannot tackle it. It is a movie I would love to direct, but I would be happy to just produce it if the timing is not right. I, by the way, was named Guest for the Day for the Haunted Mansion the last time I did, which gave me unlimited access to ride the mansion several times during the day. Unfortunately it was just the moment my left knee decided to bust and I had to go back home with a busted knee. “
I've heard tales of important people like Guillermo and Jon Favreau (when he was developing that Magic Kingdom film that never happened) getting to walk through the Haunted Mansion after the park closed down and that makes me see red. I'm so jealous! That's bucket list material for me. Maybe I need to become an awesome director or enter politics and become president just so I can get that special access... Hrmm...