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Friday, June 17, 2016

Freaky Fridays: The Tron Renaissance

In 1982, The Walt Disney Company was in trouble. Conservative management had made the company's theatrical product stale and the bloated EPCOT Center opened to poor attendance and staggering losses. Unfortunately for Walt Disney's son in law Ron Miller, he had inherited this mess from Roy O. Disney's handpicked successor Card Walker. Ron quickly went to work.


He decided to make the company a trailblazer again, starting with an ambitious Sci-Fi thriller that would be a costly gamble- Tron.


Tron would push the envelope, an attempt to lead Hollywood into the world of computer generated effects. Walt Disney Productions would again be the leader in this new world of CGI. Ron had high hopes for this film and its potential to be a lucrative property for the studio. Despite the in park promotions and flashy effects, the film would underperform. Mr. Miller had other irons in the fire, including a partnership to bring Star Wars into the parks and a new movie brand that would release non-family films. Sadly, he would be ousted in 1984, never getting a chance to see his ideas come to fruition. Tron, meanwhile, was building up a cult audience. A generation of youngsters who saw the film in theaters were coming of age and embraced the film just as the Internet began to take off. It would take nearly thirty years and a hot selling special edition DVD to get the film the buzz it never had in 1982. Soon the film found itself in the parks again...


... a long awaited sequel was produced...


... And more spectacularly, an amazing new Tron themed coaster premiered at Shanghai Disneyland this week, dazzling park guests. Finally, a permanent installation featuring the Tron franchise.


While it might have seemed to be a bungle back in 1982, this franchise has legs. Having inspired a generation of computer and tech experts, yet forgotten by the general public, Tron has a bright future. While the opening weekend grosses back in 1982 might not have been impressive to Hollywood insiders, the film impressed the kids who were in attendance, inspiring them to pursue a great big beautiful tomorrow filled with computers and technology. (It certainly made an impression on the webmaster of this site.) Flynn's Lives!