The Haunted Mansion (film)

The Haunted Mansion is a 2003 American supernatural horror comedy film based on Walt Disney's theme park attraction of the same name. Directed by Rob Minkoff, the film is written by David Berenbaum and stars Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Nathaniel Parker, Marsha Thomason, Jennifer Tilly, and Dina Spybey.

The Haunted Mansion
Haunted mansion ver3.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Minkoff
Produced by
Written byDavid Berenbaum
Based onThe Haunted Mansion
by Walt Disney
Music byMark Mancina
CinematographyRemi Adefarasin
Edited byPriscilla Nedd-Friendly
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • November 26, 2003 (2003-11-26)
Running time
86 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$90 million[2]
Box office$182.3 million[2]

The film was theatrically released in the United States on November 26, 2003 and is Disney's fifth film based on an attraction at one of its theme parks following the television film Tower of Terror (1997), Touchstone Pictures' Mission to Mars (2000), The Country Bears (2002), and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). The film grossed $182.3 million worldwide on a $90 million budget and was panned by critics.


Over a century ago, wealthy landowner Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker) falls in love with Elizabeth Henshaw, a multiracial servant in his grand manor. However, he receives a letter informing him that she spurned him, and that her death by poison was suicide; he hangs himself in despair.

In the present, Jim (Eddie Murphy) and Sara Evers (Marsha Thomason) are successful realtors with two children, Megan (Aree Davis) and arachnophobic Michael (Marc John Jefferies). A workaholic with little time for his family, Jim misses his wedding anniversary and tries to make amends by suggesting a vacation to a nearby lake. Sara is contacted by the occupants of Gracey Manor in the Louisiana bayou; Jim, eager to make a deal after learning where the mansion is, takes Sara and the children to the mansion, meeting its owner Edward Gracey (supposedly a descendent of the Gracey who owned the manor before and named after him), his butler Ramsley (Terence Stamp) and two other servants; maid Emma (Dina Spybey), and footman Ezra (Wallace Shawn).

When a rainstorm floods the nearby river, Gracey allows the family to stay the night. Ramsley takes Jim to the library discuss the deal with Gracey, but Jim becomes trapped in a secret passage. Gracey gives Sara a tour of the mansion, discussing his past and his grandfather's death after the suicide of his lover, Elizabeth. Megan and Michael follow a spectral orb to the attic, where they find a portrait of a woman that bears an almost identical resemblance to Sara. Emma and Ezra identify this woman as Elizabeth.

Jim, meanwhile, encounters Madame Leota, the ghost of a gypsy whose head is encased in a crystal ball. He runs into Emma, Ezra, and his children, and returns to Leota for answers about Elizabeth's likeness to Sara. It is then revealed that the mansion’s inhabitants are ghosts, cursed a century ago by Gracey and Elizabeth's untimely deaths, and can only enter the afterlife when the lovers are reunited; Gracey, therefore, believes Sara is Elizabeth's reincarnation. Leota then sends the Evers to the mansion's cemetery to find a key that will reveal the truth behind Elizabeth's death. In a crypt beneath a mausoleum, Jim and Megan find the key, but inadvertently disturb its undead residents. However, they escape with help from Michael, who overcomes his arachnophobia in the process.

Leota leads them to a trunk in the attic, which Jim unlocks to find a letter from Elizabeth to Gracey, revealing she truly loved him and wanted to marry him, indicating that she was murdered. Ramsley then appears and reveals he killed Elizabeth to prevent Gracey from abandoning his heritage, as he believed their relationship was unacceptable with her a servant and of a different race. To hide the truth, Ramsley traps the children in a trunk and literally throws Jim out of the mansion.

As Gracey and Sara rendezvous in the ballroom, she is confused when he asks if she recognizes him, and he insists she is his beloved Elizabeth. The room fills with dancing ghosts, and Gracey reveals his ghostly self and that he is the ghost of the original Edward, but Sara insists she is not Elizabeth. This gives Gracey second thoughts, but Ramsley insists they have found Elizabeth and, in time, she will remember. Ramsley blackmails Sara into marrying Gracey in exchange for her children's safety.

Encouraged by Leota, Jim drives his car through the mansion's conservatory, rescues his children, and stops Sara and Gracey's wedding. He gives Elizabeth's letter to Gracey, revealing the truth about her death and Ramsley’s lies. Gracey angrily confronts Ramsley, who rages at his master's apparent selfishness for loving Elizabeth and summons wraiths to attack the group. However, a fiery dragon emerges from the ballroom's fireplace and seizes Ramsley, who attempts to take Jim with him, but Gracey saves Jim as Ramsley is dragged down to Hell to face eternal damnation for his sins.

Sara collapses, having been poisoned by Ramsley, but the spectral orb appears and, possessing Sara, is revealed to be Elizabeth's ghost. Elizabeth and Gracey reunite, and Sara is subsequently revived. With the curse finally lifted, Gracey gives the Evers the deed to the mansion and departs to Heaven with Elizabeth, Emma, Ezra, and the mansion's other inhabitants. The Evers drive across the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway for a proper vacation, accompanied by Leota, and four singing busts they encountered while searching for the mausoleum strapped to the back of their car.

In a post-credits scene, Leota bids farewell to the audience, inviting them to join the dead using dialogue from the Disneyland attraction.


  • Eddie Murphy as Jim Evers, a successful yet workaholic real estate agent who is often late for family gatherings, but tries his best to make up for it.
  • Terence Stamp as Ramsley, the ghost of Gracey Manor's butler who serves as a fatherly figure to Master Gracey. He was later revealed to be Elizabeth's murderer.
  • Nathaniel Parker as Master Edward Gracey, the ghost of Gracey Manor's owner who longs for his lost love Elizabeth to return to him after her apparent suicide.
  • Marsha Thomason as Sara Evers, Jim's disapproving wife who is also his business partner. Thomason also portrays Elizabeth Henshaw, the ghost of Master Gracey's mixed-race lover who bears a striking resemblance to Sara.
  • Jennifer Tilly as Madame Leota, the ghost of a fortune teller whose head is encased in a crystal ball. She speaks in cryptic riddles.
  • Wallace Shawn as Ezra, the ghost of a bumbling footman who worries about getting into trouble.
  • Dina Spybey as Emma, the ghost of a nervous but helpful maid who seems terrified of Ramsley.
  • Marc John Jefferies as Michael Evers, Jim and Sara's arachnophobic 10-year-old son. For the role, Jefferies based his character's fear of spiders on Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series.
  • Aree Davis as Megan Evers, Jim and Sara's 13-year-old daughter who is impatient and smart.
  • The Dapper Dans as the voices of the Singing Busts.
  • Deep Roy, Jeremy Howard, and Clay Martinez as the Hitchhiking Ghosts.
  • Corey Burton as The Ghost Host (voice)

The film's chief makeup artist Rick Baker appears in the graveyard scene as a ghost behind a tombstone, using an appearance based on the Ghost Host's portrait in the attraction's Corridor of Doors. The cast also includes an uncredited Martin Klebba as Pickwick, one the ghosts in the graveyard, albeit unnamed and only known as "Happy Ghost" and director Rob Minkoff's nephew, who appears as the paperboy in the opening scene.


The mansion scenes were filmed at Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California. The main building was constructed over a period of weeks while the cupola and chimneys on the top of the mansion were computer-generated. The rest of film was shot in New Orleans and surrounding areas. The mansion's architecture is Renaissance-influenced with a mix of antebellum and Dutch-colonial revival architecture. One evidence of this is the exterior design, which is a mix-up of the attraction's exteriors in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, with the iron/glass conservatory being a nod to the latter.[citation needed]

Five Hidden Mickeys are seen; the most notable ones being the padlock at the mansion's gates, the second when an executioner's axe nearly hits Jim, and a third which is briefly seen when Ramsley pours the poison in the goblet of wine during the wedding. Two other hidden mickeys are the couch in the library and the windows on the doors Jim passes when he flees Madame Leota's chamber with a ghostly musical band chasing him. Before leaving the mansion via ghost carriage to find the mausoleum, Ezra exclaims "there's always my way," a pivotal line of dialogue from the pre-show from the Disney theme park ride.

The costume and special effects designers wanted the ghost characters to become "more dead" the farther they were from the mansion. While Ezra and Emma look human in the house, their leaving it causes them to become blue and transparent. The zombies in the mausoleum were described as the "deadest as they are farthest away". Rick Baker, the chief costume designer, did the prosthetic makeup for the zombies in the mausoleum, using skull heads for the zombie design. He also designed one of the zombies as an elderly man holding a cane in order for the mausoleum scene not to be too frightening to viewers.

This was the first film to air on Disney Channel to contain any profanity besides "hell" or "damn". It also contained the phrase "Big ass termites!", uttered by Murphy.

In the opening scene of the film, Nathaniel Parker had great difficulty trying to carry Elizabeth up the staircase, which is shown on the expressions of his face. This was due to her slippery silk dress.[citation needed]


The teaser trailer debuted in October 2002 with Tuck Everlasting and on VHS in February 2003.[citation needed]


Box officeEdit

According to Box Office Mojo, The Haunted Mansion grossed $24,278,410 on its opening weekend with an average of $7,776 per theatre in the United States. With the domestic gross at $75,847,266, the film gained more than a quarter of the earnings of its theme-ride predecessor Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The film achieved better in other markets, with an international total of $106,443,000.[2]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 13% based on 137 reviews with an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Neither scary nor funny, The Haunted Mansion is as lifeless as the ghosts in the movie."[3] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 34 out of 100 based on 34 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[5]

Jeremy Wheeler of AllMovie gave the film his below average star rating and described it as a terribly flawed fantastical comedy that neither entertains nor creeps.[citation needed]

Home media Edit

The film was released on VHS and DVD on April 20, 2004. The DVD release came with several special features, including a behind-the-scenes look at the film's production, describing how the zombies were created, and how certain visual effects were performed or produced; a scene anatomy of the graveyard; a virtual interactive ride of the film's Haunted Mansion with Emma and Ezra as hosts; a single deleted scene; an outtake reel; and a minute and a half long video about the attractions. The film was released on Blu-Ray disc on October 17, 2006.[citation needed]


It was announced on July 22, 2010 at San Diego Comic-Con International that a new film based on Disney's The Haunted Mansion was in development with Guillermo del Toro writing and producing. Del Toro saw the 2003 film with his daughters; when asked about his involvement in the new project, he said, "The thing I want to do is remake it."[6] Elaborating, he commented, "The movie I see in my head of Haunted Mansion is not, I believe, what everyone is imagining it to be. It's not just a regular world with a haunted mansion plopped in the middle. I really am thinking of a movie that has a heightened reality."[7] Del Toro said that Hatbox Ghost would be the main haunting[7] and added, "We are not making it a comedy. We are making it scary and fun at the same time, but the scary will be scary." It is to be filmed in live-action 3D.[8] To help make a respectful adaptation, del Toro has contacted Walt Disney World Imagineer Jason Surrell, author of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies, to act as a possible consultant for the film.[9] Del Toro has also announced he is aiming for a PG-13 rating for The Haunted Mansion.[10] On August 7, 2012, Del Toro mentioned in an interview with Collider that he had submitted his final draft to Disney, and that "they like the screenplay" because "their reaction to the draft was good".[11] Del Toro revealed that he will co-write the film, but will not direct it.[12] On April 9, 2015, Variety reported that Ryan Gosling is in talks to star in the film and D.V. DeVincentis will work on the film's script.[13] On September 4, 2016, Brigham Taylor signed on to co-produce the film.[14] In August 2019, del Toro stated that he was unsure if the film would be produced though he had a good feeling about the scripts. "My gauging of interest is moot but I would love to see a “Haunted Mansion” movie by someone who loves it."[15]

In July 2014, it was announced that a separate film project, a cartoon special based on the attraction and animated by Gris Grimly, was being developed in honor of the 45th anniversary. It was to be aired on the Disney Channel and Disney XD,[16] but was cancelled.[17]

On August 28, 2020, it was announced that a new live action adaptation was in the works with writer Katie Dippold. Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich will be producing the new adaptation.[18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Haunted Mansion (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. December 2, 2003. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "The Haunted Mansion". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  3. ^ "The Haunted Mansion (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "The Haunted Mansion Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on February 6, 2018.
  6. ^ Radish, Christina (July 27, 2010). "SDCC2010: Guillermo del Toro Interview DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK; Plus Info on THE HAUNTED MANSION, FRANKENSTEIN and HELLBOY". Collider. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Schwartz, Terri (July 24, 2010). "Guillermo Del Toro Dishes On 'Haunted Mansion' Remake". MTV. Retrieved July 25, 2010.
  8. ^ Warmoth, Brian (July 22, 2010). "'Tron Legacy' Stars Get Comic-Con Crowd Involved In The Movie". MTV. Retrieved July 25, 2010.
  9. ^ Armstrong, Josh (May 14, 2012). "Jason Surrell assembles The Art of Marvel's The Avengers". Archived from the original on May 21, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  10. ^ "Del Toro Talks "Mansion" & "Madness"".
  11. ^ "Guillermo del Toro Talks HAUNTED MANSION and His Love of HARRY POTTER".
  12. ^ Guillermo del Toro Gives Updates on JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK and HAUNTED MANSION; Confirms He Won't Direct HAUNTED MANSION
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (April 9, 2015). "Ryan Gosling to Star in Guillermo del Toro's 'Haunted Mansion'". Variety.
  14. ^ Marshall, Rick (September 4, 2016). "'The Jungle Book' producer on talking animals, 'The Rocketeer' sequel, and Del Toro's 'Haunted Mansion'". Digital Trends.
  15. ^ Taylor, Drew (August 8, 2019). "'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' Producer Guillermo del Toro Says His 'Haunted Mansion' Movie with Ryan Gosling Was Going to Happen". Moviefone.
  16. ^ "Haunted Mansion Attraction Inspires Spooky Animated Special".
  17. ^
  18. ^ Kit, Borys (August 28, 2020). "'Haunted Mansion' Movie in the Works With Writer Katie Dippold (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 28, 2020.

External linksEdit