The iconic Singing Busts were removed from the final cut of Disney's latest Haunted Mansion film.
While Haunted Mansion might not have the highest Rotten Tomatoes score out there (currently 42% from critics), it seems that people are still enjoying the movie. One of the aspects of the film that's getting the most attention is how loyal the project honors the original Disneyland attraction it was inspired by.
The general aesthetic is on point, iconic characters like Madame Leota and the Hat Box Ghost are central characters, the classic stretching room is present, and plenty more. Though, despite all that, the film wasn't able to include every notable aspect of the Haunted Mansion attraction.
The Singing Busts Miss the Party
The Direct's Russ Milheim exclusively spoke with Haunted Mansion cinematographer Jeffrey Waldron about the upcoming Disney movie, where he revealed an iconic part of the original attraction was removed from the final film: the Singing Busts.
Waldron shared that production "did shoot a piece" for "the Singing Busts," and fans will likely be "a little bit [bummed]" that they were left on the cutting room floor:
"You know, we did shoot a piece for it, was the Singing Busts, which I think for fans, it's going to be a little bit of a bummer that it doesn't make it. But the Singing Busts that sing 'Grim Grinning Ghosts' in that final Disneyland sequence. We shot them in the graveyard as part of the initial tour and just didn't make the cut."
The Singing Busts are placed toward the end of the Haunted Mansion ride when riders arrive at the graveyard set piece.
The cinematographer shared that he recently "went back to Disneyland and rode it a couple of times," and the Singing Busts were "the only thing" that "got away:"
"But that's kind of the only, and having just filmed there last weekend, I went back to Disneyland and rode it a couple of times, that's the only thing [that] sort of got away. Everything else is super in there and more than I could have ever even remembered from the ride before we made it."
While the busts may not have made it, another iconic set piece did get the spotlight: the stretching room.
Apparently, in earlier scripts, that moment wasn't what director Justin Simien ended up morphing it into:
"... So in early scripts, there was reference to stretching, but it never became the escape scene that Justin morphed it into. And as it developed, there was kind of this idea that the ground would split four ways into the perils that are revealed by each of the stretching portraits. So the one that reveals alligators, that piece of ground was alligators—the quicksand, the dynamite, the graveyard, all those things start to make it impossible to stay down there, essentially."
Waldron explained some of the details of how they pulled together the big stretching room escape piece:
"So we had a piece of blue linoleum that spread out the entire circle of our practical stretching room, so that a lot of that could be pulled off. But then Ben [Matthias] was in an actual sandbox so that he's like, trudging through actual sand. They make it to the gargoyles as their means of escape, which are starting to stretch off the walls as well. And so we had very specific pieces of wall with a rising dark coil so that they could ride up and they can swing around them on the techno-crane and all that stuff. And then there was also another set that when they finally get through the through the top and climb out, sort of connects to the exterior. So a lot of little pieces that [put a] sequence like that together."
Can the Singing Busts Still Make an Appearance in Haunted Mansion?
It is a little strange how such an iconic part of the attraction didn't make it to the final version of the film, especially considering the sheer amount of references that did survive.
If they filmed something, one would think they'd throw it into the post-credits as a bonus. Hopefully, the scene can be included in the deleted scenes when the movie releases digitally and physically.
Or perhaps they can include it in a sequel? If a future movie focuses on one of the international variations of the attraction, the Singing Busts could be an easy inclusion since they're present in four out of five of the Haunted Mansions around the world (they are only missing from Hong Kong's Mystic Manor).
The singing statues were technically already immortalized on film, though, since they were a part of Eddie Murphy's 2003 adaptation.
Haunted Mansion is playing in theaters worldwide.