The Haunted Mansion Curse: A Tale of Two Box Office Disasters
Disney’s Haunted Mansion has been a beloved theme park attraction for years, but its cinematic adaptations have been anything but successful. The 2003 Eddie Murphy-led film “The Haunted Mansion” and the 2023 reboot both bombed at the box office and were critically panned. The former had a budget of $90 million and holds a dismal 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The latter, with a staggering $150 million budget, didn’t fare much better, garnering a 38% aggregate critical score.
“Ultimately, neither film elevates its source material, nor do their shoehorned narratives stand out on their own merits.”
The Muppets to the Rescue: A Spirited Outing on Disney+
But there’s a silver lining in this tale of haunted cinematic failures. A lesser-known adaptation, “Muppets Haunted Mansion,” has proven to be the franchise’s saving grace. This straight-to-streaming Disney+ special has a fresh 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is quickly becoming a seasonal cult classic.
“With a fresh 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, Muppets Haunted Mansion is not only the best-reviewed adaptation but it’s poised to become a seasonal cult classic.”
Why Muppets Haunted Mansion Works
The Muppets have a knack for taking existing stories and adding their unique blend of humor and heart. In “Muppets Haunted Mansion,” Gonzo and Pepe spend a night in the infamous ghost-filled residence, encountering a host of familiar faces along the way. Will Arnett takes on the role of Ghost Host, while Miss Piggy appears as “Madam Pigota,” a hilarious take on the mansion’s resident fortune-teller.
“The movie takes plenty of cues and in-jokes from the popular theme park attraction.”
The film’s success lies in its ability to stay true to the source material while injecting the Muppets’ signature absurdist, self-referential humor. It’s a formula that has worked for the Muppets in the past, as seen in adaptations like “Muppet Treasure Island” and “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz.”
“Muppets Haunted Mansion balances humor and heart in a way the feature-length Haunted Mansion movies struggle to do.”
The Perils of Overcomplicating a Good Thing
One of the major pitfalls of the 2003 and 2023 Haunted Mansion movies was their attempt to inject too much new story into the mix. These padded narratives detracted from the fun and lore of the mansion, failing to build any intrigue on their own.
“It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which 2023’s Haunted Mansion would have ever made back its wildly inflated budget.”
The Muppets: The Unlikely Saviors of the Haunted Mansion Franchise
In a landscape where big budgets and star power often dominate, “Muppets Haunted Mansion” serves as a reminder that sometimes less is more. By staying true to the source material and leveraging the timeless charm of the Muppets, this Disney+ special breathes new life into a franchise that desperately needed it.
“Muppets Haunted Mansion, however, brings some much-needed life to the franchise.”
So, the next time you’re scrolling through Disney+ looking for a Haunted Mansion fix, skip the big-budget flops and give the Muppets a chance. You won’t be disappointed.