3:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Magic Kingdom TV Universe in the Works at Disney+ (Exclusive)
Disney is ready to bring the characters from its theme parks and classic films to life in a new way.
The media giant is teaming with For All Mankind creator Ron Moore to develop a franchise for streamer Disney+ that is set in Disney's beloved Magic Kingdom. The first project in the works as part of the so-called Magic Kingdom Universe is The Society of Explorers and Adventurers, which is set in a world where all the themed lands and characters of the Disney parks and classic films actually exist in another reality.
Noted Disney superfan and For All Mankind creator Ron Moore will write and exec produce SEA for Disney+ and 20th Television. The potential series is currently in the development stage. In success, Moore will build out the Magic Kingdom universe and oversee the entire franchise. More would expand the franchise in a way that's similar to the world he built out of Syfy's Battlestar Galactica and, more recently, what Marvel is creating for Disney+.
Reps for Disney+ and 20th Television declined comment.
For the Magic Kingdom Universe, Moore is working closely with the Disney Imagineering team, the group of research and developers who are responsible for the creation and design of all of Disney's theme parks across the globe. Sources say a mini-writers room is already being put together with a search under way for three senior-level writers.
The idea, per sources, is to explore characters — like sea boat captain from the Jungle Cruise or prospector from Big Thunder Mountain or the climbers of the Matterhorn, for example — as part of the world of The Society of Explorers and Adventurers. (To be clear, none of those characters or storylines are currently on the table at this stage.)
In addition to Disney's Imagineering team (who were featured in their own docuseries on Disney+), Maril Davis and Ben McGinnis — Moore's longtime collaborators at his Tall Ship Productions banner — are also attached to SEA and the larger Magic Kingdom Universe.
The potential franchise — which has a seemingly endless number of characters and stories to explore — is the latest collaboration for Moore at Disney since the For All Mankind and Outlander exec producer moved his overall deal from his longtime home at Sony TV to 20th Television. 20th TV's Carolyn Cassidy spearheaded Moore's deal with the Disney-backed studio last summer during her tenure as president of the Fox-turned-Disney studio. (As part of Disney's December reorganization, Cassidy now serves as exec vp development under new president and former ABC topper Karey Burke.)
Under the multiyear agreement, which sources estimated is worth in the eight-figure range all in, Moore and his Tall Ship Productions banner will create and develop new projects across the Disney portfolio. His first project under the pact is the Disney+ series Swiss Family Robinson, which he's working on alongside Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians).
Moore received multiple lucrative offers from other streamers and studios but opted to leave money on the table to sign with 20th TV. Sony TV, sources say, was among those who pursued a new deal with Moore. The independent studio, for whom Moore has delivered both Starz's Outlander and Apple's For All Mankind, offered a more lucrative deal but Moore ultimately opted to sign with 20th TV and pursue a his longtime passion for Disney. (Moore also was instrumental in bringing Diana Gabaldon's beloved Outlander novels to television, with producers Sony TV currently readying a spinoff.)
"I decided to go there mostly because my childhood was built around a lot of things that were Disney. I am a huge fan and aficionado of the Disneyland park in Anaheim to the point where I would go there by myself periodically and ride the rides," Moore told The Hollywood Reporter podcast TV's Top 5 in an interview this month. "The opportunity for me to get to work on a lot of the classic IP that Disney has and things in their library that meant so much to me as a child growing up and that I have shared with my children ultimately was just something I couldn't pass up." Moore, who previously flirted with a Star Wars live-action TV series with George Lucas for Disney-owned ABC nearly a decade ago, also noted he's eager to revisit the franchise as part of his lucrative new Disney pact.
The Magic Kingdom Universe would mark a massive brand integration for Disney+. The year-old streamer has already unveiled extensive plans to build-out the worlds of Star Wars and Marvel with nearly a dozen live-action scripted series in the works for both franchises. Star Wars offshoot The Mandalorian and Marvel's first Disney+ series WandaVision have become critical and commercial breakouts for the platform. The Magic Kingdom Universe would further expand the worlds of Disney's beloved theme parks and naturally compliment the roster of Disney feature films that stream exclusively on Disney+.
Moore is repped by CAA.