When pre-release polling hit studio E-mail in boxes this past Monday, Sean Bailey no doubt took a huge sigh of relief. Along with Walden Media and 20th Century Fox's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader," Bailey's pet project "Tron Legacy" is tracking as though it will hit theaters like a monster. Both films should be two of the biggest openings since the summer season. Considering how much the studio has invested in production and marketing the film for over three years, that's very good news.
For "Narnia," a big holiday opening would put the franchise back on track after Walden had a testy break up with Disney following the disappointing summer run of "Prince Caspian." It's clear fans of the franchise want less dark and gloomy drama and more fantastical, smile-inducing magic. Thankfully, C.S. Lewis' "Voyage" is perfectly constructed to deliver such CG wonders. And after the success of the inaugural "the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," not many are that surprised the series will make a comeback. As for "Legacy," the risks are much greater.
Bailey is the new President of Production at Walt Disney Studios, but before that made a splash at the Mouse House by shepherding the long gestating "Tron" sequel. However, his producer resume also includes such notable films as Ridley Scott's "Matchstick Men" and longtime collaborator Ben Affleck's "Gone Baby Gone." The new Disney has a lot at stake with "Legacy" though which is why the pressure is on for Bailey with one of his first film's out of the gate. The studio already has a sequel in the works and has announced an animated TV series for the Disney XD channel. "Legacy" needs to be big and it needs to be a hit. And so far, so good (at least according to tracking).
I spoke to Bailey last July at Comic-Con at a special "Tron Legacy" set -- a nod to the film's End of the Line bar -- and it was clear the once blunt producer had segued to a more conservative and cautious studio president tone. However, he did discuss the concerns over too much 3-D and the intriguing possibility of whether we'll see "Tron" rides at Disney theme parks anytime soon. You can watch the interview embedded in the post above.
Additionally, check out two recently released clips from "Legacy" below. The event flick won't make the best picture cut, but its score (Daft Punk), production design, sound, costumes and visual effects make it a major player in those categories.
"Tron Legacy" opens nationwide and in IMAX on Dec. 17.