2023 will be a major anniversary for Haunted Mansion; not the popular attraction at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, but the movies based on that ride. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the first try to turn the ride into a movie, as well as the year Disney tries to make you forget that movie by releasing a brand-new one.
Disney has been hit and miss when it comes to turning theme park attractions into movies but the original Haunted Mansion movie, despite it having a lot more going for it than you might remember, is seen as one of the misses. But the ride is still popular, and following the success of Jungle Cruise, Disney has assembled an impressive cast to try and make the new Haunted Mansion a hit with the public.
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Rosario Dawson will lead the impressive cast of Haunted Mansion as a single mother and doctor named Gabbie. Gabbie will bring her son with her to New Orleans after she takes a possession of what is described as a “strangely affordable” mansion in New Orleans. Before long, they discover their new home is haunted and begin to look for ways to deal with the spirits. Rosario Dawson’s relationship with Disney goes far beyond Haunted Mansion, as she is also set to reprise Ahsoka Tano, her role from Disney+’s The Mandalorian, in the upcoming series Ahsoka.
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Owen Wilson as Kent
If The Exorcist taught us anything, it’s that when you’re dealing with otherworldly beings, call a priest. That priest will be played by Owen Wilson. His name is Kent, and he will reportedly be the first person Gabbie turns to for help. From there, Kent will enlist the help of others. Since it’s Owen Wilson, we can expect his priest isn’t going to be too serious. Haunted Mansion is just one of several recent projects Wilson is working on with Disney. The Disney+ animated series Cars on the Road is set to debut in September 2022. He’s also set to reprise Mobius in Loki Season 2, which is in production.
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One of the people that Gabbie and her new priest friend will go to for help will be played by Lakeith Stanfield, who was one of the first people cast in Haunted Mansion. He’ll play a character named Ben Matthias, who is described as a “a widowed scientist-turned-failed paranormal expert.” Needless to say that description covers a lot of ground. He investigates the paranormal, but not well it would seem. Perhaps Be’s status as a widower is the reason he began studying the paranormal, which already gives him a fairly tragic story. Stanfield was previously nominated for an Oscar for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah.
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Tiffany Haddish will play the third of the four people that Gabbie will hope can help her with her ghost problem. In this case, Haddish is playing a psychic named Harriett. It’s unclear if this psychic will be “real” or some sort of con artist, though if this is a world where ghosts exist, certainly psychics can also be real. Haddish was recently seen alongside Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and has added her skills as a voice actress to numerous shows, including Tuca & Bertie and Solar Opposites.
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Rounding out the cast of four characters that Rosario Dawson’s character will go to looking for help will be a character described as a “crotchety” college history professor. There may be no actor more capable of embodying the concept of “crochety” than Danny DeVito. This history professor doesn’t have a name yet, but one assumes he will be able to provide Dawson’s Gabbie with information about the house she lives in, and may be able to explain why it is haunted. DeVito recently appeared in the Disney+ movie The One and Only Ivan, and is still hoping to appear in the long in development Triplets, the sequel to Twins with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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It wouldn’t be much of a Haunted Mansion movie without some direct references to the popular attraction, and the new film has found some big names to take on some key roles. Jared Leto is reportedly on board to play the Hatbox Ghost. The character was part of the Haunted Mansion in its earliest days, but was removed when it was felt the effect didn’t work properly. In 2015, a new version of the character returned to the ride. The Hatbox Ghost will reportedly be CGI, with Leto providing the voice. Jared Leto is also on tap to lead the next Tron movie for Disney.
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Jamie Lee Curtis
The new Haunted Mansion movie is not expected to be connected to the previous film in any way, but the two movies will have at least one character in common. Madame Leota is the name of the head inside the floating crystal ball that is probably the most recognizable part of the Disneyland and Disney World ride. In the 2003 movie, Leota was played by Jennifer Tilly. In the new film, Leota will reportedly be brought to life by the great Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis is set to reprise her role as Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends for what may be the final time in 2022. She’ll also soon appear in the film adaptation of the Borderlands video game.
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Rounding out the key cast will be Chase Dillon, who will be playing the son of Rosario Dawson’s Gabbie. Haunted Mansion will mark Dillon’ theatrical debut, as his only other film role was in Netflix’s The Harder They Fall. He has appeared in several TV projects, including The Underground Railroad for Prime Video and Apple TV+’s Pinecone & Pony.
The cast of Haunted Mansion is already stacked, though it’s possible there are still more casting announcements on the way. There are several more characters from the attraction who could be making appearances. Disney’s second shot at a successful Haunted Mansion movie hits theaters March 10, 2023.