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5 Common-Universe Theories For Movies

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What if two of your favorite movies were actually taking place in the same world? Every book, movie, or television show with a devoted fanbase has probably garnered a “same universe” theory (as the Fan Theories subreddit can attest), and a few actually hold water. Prepare to watch your favorite cinematic worlds collide.

1. All the Pixar Movies.

Jon Negroni is responsible for what is probably the most talked about same universe theory. While he didn’t come up with the initial idea, Negroni spent a year mapping a timeline and tracking all the Easter eggs to bring the conjecture to life.

The theory starts with Brave, which establishes the rules for human-like animals and the magic that brings inanimate objects to life. We see the logical progression of a world in which humans and animals could communicate with Remy in Ratatouille and then in Up with the collar technology that works as a translator. From there we see the further advancement of animal and artificial intelligence in Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, leading us to the flagship Pixar enterprise, Toy Story. The Incredibles established a story of a fight against superhumans, and the story of Woody and Buzz furthers perhaps the central conflict of this long and winding story: robots vs. humans. Okay, maybe not robots exactly, but the sentient, non-human world. Toys, Cars, and later on, an actual robot who goes by the name of Wall-E.

In brief, the world eventually becomes uninhabitable, so humans abandon the planet to save the species. Then, at the end of Wall-E, we see a tiny little seedling spring to life that bears a notable likeness to the one in A Bug’s Life. Are you reeling? We’re not done yet. As the planet is reclaimed by all things organic, new life forms develop. Hello, Monsters, Inc.

Negroni’s elaborate theory has even more amazing corollaries (Boo from Monsters, Inc. and the witch from Brave are the same person!), so you should probably just immerse yourself and then binge-watch these movies in order.

2. Frozen and The Little Mermaid. (And Tangled, and maybe Tarzan, too?)

Wise observers noticed that the characters of Rapunzel and Flynn (post-Tangled, judging by the hair) appear at Elsa’s coronation in Frozen. That’s crazy enough, but it doesn’t stop there. What if Anna and Elsa’s parents died at sea while on their way to Rapunzel's wedding? It would make sense that if the films take place in the same universe and the characters are all royalty, the King and Queen would have been invited. Maybe years later, Flynn and Rapunzel attend Elsa's coronation out of guilt?

And about that ship that was lost at sea: Is it the same one that Ariel and Flounder hide out in in The Little Mermaid? During a Reddit AMA, the writer-directors of Frozen, Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, took things to a whole new level, hinting at the possibility that the King and Queen never actually died at all and instead washed ashore a jungle island and had a little baby named Tarzan.

3. Lots more Disney movies.

What if the aforementioned storm that marooned Frozen’s King and Queen was the same one happening at the climax of The Lion King? Fans have also noticed that a twin of the Carpet from Aladdin appears in the The Hunchback of Notre Dame, that a toy in Aladdin looks exactly like Beast from Beauty and the Beast, that the magic lamp appears in The Princess and the Frog ... the list goes on and on. The common thread here is Aladdin, which might make sense given that a genie is well equipped to travel through time and across worlds. Dogs from Lady & the Tramp surface in 101 Dalmatians, and some have speculated that Mother Gothel from Tangled and the Evil Queen from Snow White are the same person.

4. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and E.T.

You can almost imagine Steven Spielberg and George Lucas on a soundstage somewhere mapping this one out and having a nice laugh. Turns out that there are tons of clues potentially connecting these classics, including Indy’s visit to “Club Obi Wan” in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; a hieroglyphic of R2-D2, C-3PO, and Princess Leia in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark; E.T. recognizing Yoda and wheezing out, “Hoooome” on Halloween and later on; and members of E.T.’s species appearing in the Galactic Senate in The Phantom Menace.

The grand theory argues that the crystal skull aliens from Indiana Jones brought the story of Star Wars with them to Earth, built the pyramids, and immortalized the story of C-3PO & Co. through wall carvings. The story was thus solidified in human mythology.

5. The Tim Burtonverse.

Tim Burton’s penchant for returning to certain themes could just be a sign of what interests him. Or it could point to a mind-bogglingly expansive story. Several Burtonverse theories exist. One connects his first stop-motion film, Vincent, to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, and Corpse Bride as a single tale of a boy and his pup. Others include Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice in that web, and some even say they’re not just part of the same universe, but part of the same enormous movie! Aside from the common fan theory of a multi-picture narrative of a dog who is almost killed (Vincent), then does indeed die (Frankenweenie), then becomes a spirit who’s adopted in the afterlife by Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas), repeat actors like Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder allow for some interesting possibilities for character threads.

There are some resemblances that help bridge the live action and animated worlds, too. After all, Victor from Frankenweenie and Victor from Corpse Bride look quite similar (oh, and they’re both named Victor!), and so do Elsa Van Helsing (Frankenweenie) and Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice) and even Weird Girl (Frankenweenie) and Kim (Edward Scissorhands). For the superhero crowd, there are theories asserting that Burton’s Batman movies exist in the same universe as the Joel Schumacher Batman movies (Jon Negroni again).

And for a little perspective on all conspiracy theory fandom, or to have your mind completely blown, check out this all-encompassing timeline of Burton’s films, connecting everything from Sleepy Hollow to Planet of the Apes with a determination rivaled only by Pee-wee Herman fighting to retrieve his stolen bicycle.

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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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12 Facts About Disney's The Jungle Book
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It may not have followed Rudyard Kipling's book exactly—in fact, Walt Disney preferred that scriptwriters not read the book—but The Jungle Book was a toe-tapping box office success. Here are a few "bare necessities" you should know about the 1967 animated classic, which was released in theaters across America 50 years ago.

1. WALT DISNEY THOUGHT THE FIRST VERSION OF THE SCRIPT WAS TOO DARK.

Writer Bill Peet was brought on to script the first version of the movie, but Disney believed it was too dark. It’s not clear whether Peet left or was booted from the project; either way, a new team was brought in for rewrites. Floyd Norman, one of the new writers, said Walt wanted the film to have more laughs and more personality, and—true to Disney form—he also wanted sign off on every little detail.

2. MOST OF THE SONGS WERE DEEMED TOO DARK AS WELL.

Composer Terry Gilkyson was hired to write songs for the movie, but as with the script, Disney felt they lacked a sense of fun. Though the Sherman brothers (Richard and Robert) were brought in to write a new soundtrack, one of Gilkyson’s songs did remain in the movie: "The Bare Necessities." We'd say he got the last laugh: Not only is “The Bare Necessities” one of the best tunes in Disney history, it was also nominated for an Oscar (the film's sole nomination).

3. IT WAS THE LAST ANIMATED FEATURE WALT DISNEY OVERSAW.

When Disney died on December 15, 1966, the studio closed for a single day. Then they got back to business working on the last animated feature Disney had a hand in. It was released on October 18, 1967.

4. A RHINOCEROS CHARACTER GOT CUT.

Rocky the Rhino was intended to be a dim-witted, bumbling, near-blind character that would provide some comic relief. His scenes were completely storyboarded before he got the boot: He was supposed to appear after King Louie’s scene, but Walt didn’t want to put the funny sequences back-to-back.

5. THEY WANTED THE BEATLES TO VOICE THE VULTURES.

The Sherman brothers wrote the vultures’ song “That’s What Friends Are For” with The Beatles in mind, even giving the characters similar accents. But the Fab Four turned them down. “John was running the show at the time, and he said [dismissively] ‘I don’t wanna do an animated film.’ Three years later they did Yellow Submarine, so you can see how things change,” Richard Sherman said.

Here’s what the version of “That’s What Friends Are For” would have sounded like, as well as a glimpse of Rocky the Rhino:

6. THERE ARE MAJOR MISPRONUNCIATIONS IN THE MOVIE.

According to a guide written by Kipling, the main character’s name is pronounced "Mowglee" (accent on the 'Mow,' which rhymes with 'cow'), not “Moe-glee,” which is how Disney chose to say it. In addition, Kaa the snake is supposed to be “Kar,” Baloo the Bear should have been “Barloo,” and Colonel Hathi is really “Huttee.”

7. KING LOUIE WAS BASED ON LOUIS ARMSTRONG.

Although jazz singer and bandleader Louis Prima voiced the fire-obsessed orangutan, he’s not the Louis who the Shermans originally had in mind when they began writing “I Wan’na Be Like You” for the character. "We were thinking about Louis Armstrong when we wrote it, and that's where we got the name, King Louie," Richard Sherman told The New York Times. "Then in a meeting one day, they said, ‘Do you realize what the N.A.A.C.P. would do to us if we had a black man as an ape? They'd say we're making fun of him.' I said: ‘Come on, what are you talking about? I adore Louis Armstrong, I wouldn't hurt him in any way.'” In the end, Louis Prima stepped in.

8. A JUNGLE BOOK DANCE SEQUENCE WAS LATER BORROWED FOR ROBIN HOOD.

King Louie and Baloo’s “I Wan’na Be Like You” dance was later repeated, frame for frame, in Robin Hood, which also borrowed dances from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Aristocats. This was achieved through an animation technique called “rotoscoping,” where animators trace over the frames of old footage to use it in a different environment.

9. THE SONG "TRUST IN ME" WAS ALSO RECYCLED.

Originally written for Mary Poppins as “Land of Sand,” “Trust In Me” was recycled with new lyrics for Kaa to sing while hypnotizing poor Mowgli. Here’s what it would have sounded like:

10. THE YOUNG ELEPHANT WAS VOICED BY CLINT HOWARD.

Ron Howard’s younger brother also voiced another Disney youngster: Roo in the Winnie the Pooh movies.

11. PHIL HARRIS BROUGHT NEW LIFE TO BALOO.

Allegedly, Walt Disney chose Harris to voice Baloo after meeting him at a party. At the time, Harris was retired and nearly forgotten in Hollywood. His first day of recording didn’t go so well at first: Harris found Baloo’s tone wooden and boring, so asked if he could try a little improvisation. Once given the go-ahead, "I came out with something like, 'You keep foolin' around in the jungle like this, man, you gonna run across some cats that'll knock the roof in,'" Harris recalled. Disney loved Baloo’s new personality and rewrote lines to suit the style.

12. THERE WAS A SEQUEL.

It came out in 2003 (not direct-to-video, surprisingly) and featured Haley Joel Osment as Mowgli and John Goodman as Baloo. By most accounts, you shouldn’t bother seeing it; it currently has a 19 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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