June 30, 2011 / 1:55 AM / 8 years ago

Disney prepping movie based on Matterhorn ride

Skiers speed down in front of Matterhorn mountain at Riffelberg in the ski resort of Zermatt February 21, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As its fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film races to the billion-dollar mark at the worldwide box office, Disney is developing an adventure movie based on another theme-park attraction.

This time it’s the Matterhorn rollercoaster ride, also known as the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which has been part of Disneyland’s Fantasyland section since 1959.

The studio has hired Jason Dean Hall to write a script for the project, which has a working title of “The Hill.” The idea is to do a thrilling, fast-paced movie centering on five young adventure seekers who, for mysterious reasons, are called to the top of the mountain and encounter a Yetis on the journey down.

The Matterhorn ride was inspired by Walt Disney’s desire for a toboggan-themed roller coaster as well as thoughts he had after an extended trip to Switzerland, the site of the famed mountain. The ride, a centerpiece of the park, was refurbished in 1978, with one of the upgrades being the addition of three automatronic Abominable Snowmen (a.k.a. Yetis) who growl at riders.

Adapting Disney rides into film franchises is clearly a priority for the company. “Pirates of the Caribbean” is the most successful of the rides-turned-movies, generating $3.7 billion worldwide over four films. A movie was made out of the Haunted Mansion, and another is being developed with Guillermo del Toro producing. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” was a Disney film, then a theme park ride, and is now being rebooted as a David Fincher directing vehicle. The ultimate theme park movie might be “Disney’s Magic Kingdom,” which is set entirely in the park. That project is being developed by writer Michael Chabon and director Jon Favreau.

Hall is best known for writing the 2009 indie drama “Spread,” starring Ashton Kutcher and Anne Heche. But he has worked on action-oriented projects that are in various development stages, notably “Robin Hood 2058,” set up at Warners, “Grand Theft Auto,” and sci-fi actioner “Blacklight.”

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