The summer Californian weather was nigh unbearable inside the central headquarters of the Walt Disney Corporation. A building composed out of nothing but crystal walls and the most basic of frames seemed like a great idea at the time; yet, come 2010, global warming quickly transformed such modern mess into a frying rectangle of doom. Every floor was as stuffed with workers as it was stuffed by hovering particles of gaseous sweat. Oxygen supplies were low. Canisters full to the brim with freshly produced O2 were being ordered by phone, but it proved unsuccessful. The sun’s disdain for the human race was so powerful it had blown up all artificial oxygen canisters on the West Coast with heat alone. The nearest oxygen dispenser was three states over.
Low-level employees whose life wasted away amongst polished keyboards and Mickey Mouse-related office paraphernalia were cultivating their very own puddles of sweat underneath their chairs, prompting a gush of undiscovered flora and fauna to flower inside the clean blue carpet tattooed on their shoes and their memories. The air conditioner guy had vowed to make his appearance anytime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The hands in the clock were nearing 6 o’clock and nil a doorbell buzz let itself be heard. Neither had the bell ring that signaled the ending of the workday emitted a single sound. This meant work hours were still running up for these anonymous fellows that make the backbone of one of America’s most loved conglomerates.
Maybe the electrical connections of both chimes had melted away courtesy of the searing heat, but since the many computers on the building were still managing to keep themselves alive, that was probably not the case. Many a Walt Disney worker wondered if this sudden silence hadn’t been forced upon the entire building by the board of directors. It wasn’t usual for the chairmen to encourage such an abnormal rule of silence but, then again, it wasn’t usual for these well-dressed directors to clamp themselves on the top floor for so long. Certainly, the matters discussed upstairs were of the upmost importance since even a distraction as slight as a doorbell or air conditioners were being banned until further notice. The entire workforce could only speculate and groan in symphonic disinterest.
Indeed, casual onlookers and the odd tourist that wandered aimlessly within the building’s vicinity felt the aura of despair and restlessness emanating from the topmost floor. A mandatory meeting was taking place. Every member of the board was presently sweating inside and outside of their crania. The crystal walls surrounding their table felt like a transparent force field whose only purpose was to augment the ever-increasing feeling of heat transpiring through all of Burbank. Their thoughts melted inside their heads, creating some sort of mental-casing that prevented their brains from receiving external stimulus. The chairmen of the board, all nine of them, were in stasis for the time being.
The banging of a clenched fist against the table returned them to the real world. One of them even lingered on the site of the impact hoping the piece of furniture he hoped to inherit one day remained unscathed. It had been chipped.
“We’ve been here almost a week now!” yelled the president of the happiest multinational on Earth with a distinct non-smile on her face. “We’ve been locked in here for seven days and none of you has come up with one single good idea! I need to take a bath but I cannot leave until one of us solves our dilemma!”
“But I don’t understand what is wrong with the original plan”, replied the baldest of the men, “I mean, it is what we do every time one of our movies celebrates any kind of anniversary. We just release it on DVD and Blu-Ray, slap some sort of “Diamond Edition” sticker on and call it a day.”
“We cannot let this particular film to be subjected to that kind of mundane treatment! No, sir, we cannot!” argued the one that was so young his hair was merely thinning instead of falling off in chunks every night.
“How come?” said the baldest of the bald. And, just then, for a fraction of a second, the weather made a magical 180° turn. He hadn’t even uttered the statement that followed when every soul present knew what it would be. The tension felt amongst the many livers lined up one next to the other created a vortex of coldness so intense the gasified sweat froze into salty diamond dust that fell onto their faces. And then, the dreaded phrase came out of his mouth: “I mean, it’s just a movie!”
A collective gasp, a brief vacuum of space right in the middle of the meeting, shiny skin covered in sweat in all three states of matter, utter silence. The faintest heartbeats could be heard perfectly by all. The work force below them felt the tension digging through their stomachs.
“What did you say?” asked the president with a reverb effect added to her voice courtesy of the decibel-less environment. She stood up. “I dare you… I dare you to repeat what you just said.”
“You know what I said! Think about it. You might love it. Heck! Half of the world might love it but really think about it. Isn’t it just a movie, though? Isn’t it?” answered the perpetrator drowning himself in the quivers of his body that showed his nervousness to the world.
“Home on the Range is just a movie. The Cat from Outer Space is just a movie. Treasure Planet is just a movie! Even Oliver & Company is just a movie!”
The bald man gulped. All the heat of Burbank swiftly focused on this one man’s face. The shine on his bald pate disappeared despite the redness of his state. The president approached him with an ever calm, but marked, stride. She wasn’t blinking. He couldn’t dare to.
“This is Mary Poppins we’re speaking of, Aylwin. You know Mary Poppins? You know it? Mary-fucking-Poppins?It is not just a movie. Did you hear me? It. Is. Not. Just. A. Movie. Do you even know what it represents? Even though you work here you dare to tell me you do not know what Mary Poppins represents to this company?”
“I— Well, I— It represents growing up? The power of imagination?”
“No, Aylwin, it is not about growing up.” Her eyes were so close to his it was only their eyelashes that prevented their ocular globes from touching. “It represents our power. It represents the power of the Walt Disney Empire over everything else in this world. It is about how Walt, and therefore, us, can get anything we want. Always. No exception. Anything we want is ours, even if it doesn’t fucking exist! Mary Poppins is about us controlling the world with smiles and the people being okay with it! Do you understand, Aylwin? Do you understand how important it is to get this 50th anniversary thing right? Do you know now what is at stake? Our power! That is what’s at stake!”
“Yes, of course.” He kneeled asking for mercy, losing pantones of skin color by the second. “Yes, I do. I do understand. I… I can’t believe I had forgotten.” He was almost transparent. The people present could catch a glimpse of his skeleton.
She then proceeded to smile, not a fake smile, but a heartfelt and honest one. She was satisfied.
“Good. Now, please get up and go outside and grab some candies or whatever food you crave. I fear your blood sugar levels might not be on the healthy side. Don’t worry, tell the lunch lady it’s on me.”
“Yes, ma’am. Whatever you say, ma’am.”
And, just when he was about to get his ample body frame back up, just before his skin could recapture its rosy palette, the door opened with a slam, jerking whoever was still in their own personal wonderland of turned off brains back to reality. Even the president seemed surprised by the unfolding events. She was jump scared.
She turned just in time to observe the responsible of the slam waltzing inside the room with a book-like object on his hands. He was sweating like a disgusting and smelly fountain. And, yet, he smiled. He entered the place waving the book-like thing around the air to direct everyone’s attention on it.
“I found it!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. He moved so euphorically his headpiece found itself dancing aimlessly over his head, absorbing the excess sweat the man produced.
“What is “it”, Orin?” asked the president feeling as annoyed as ever by her unfaithful minions.
“Why, a screenplay, of course!”
“You’re gonna have to elaborate on this one if you want me to follow…”
“It’s the screenplay I told you I bought a few years back.”
“Not ringing any bells.”
“They’re ringing for me!” ushered the only other woman in the presidential team.
“Explain yourself, Monica, before I leave this room to consume a whole pack of cigarettes and force you to solve this issue by yourselves before I come back.”
“It’s the screenplay you ordered us to buy, the one we couldn’t allow to fall into the hands of any other studio in the world because you feared of the consequences.”
“Wait”, said the president while trying to grasp the thought that had just crossed her mind, “is this the one written by that unknown girl that did the Terra Nova thing? The one about Walt and–?
“Exactly!” chimed Orin with a distinct lack of testosterone.
“Where did you find it?”
“It’s the block of paper we used to level Monica’s desk in Management! Can’t believe we forgot that was the reason we bought it in the first place!”
“Is it doable?” asked the president disregarding Orin’s attempt at being funny.
“I had Hank from Accounting calculate the costs. We could produce it with a meager 35 million budget in less than a month and with two stars attaching their face to the project!”
“That’s but spare change! We wasted almost double on that A.N.T. Farm business and look what good it made us!”
“And I assure you, Miss President, this will be a far rewarding venture than whatever that thing you just mentioned was! Monetarily speaking, of course.”
“That’s the only language we speak in here, my good man! How long ‘til we can start pre-production?”
“Next Tuesday is the soonest.”
“Make it Monday and I will assure three out of this thirty-five million land straight into your pockets.”
“Aye, aye, Miss President!”
After courteously handing the script to the president, he rushed outside of the room as fast as his nimble legs let him.
“Monica, help him and you’ll also get your three million share.”
And she disappeared as well. The president then proceeded to take her seat back at the table’s head and let out a sigh of relief. She had regained her confidence.
“Was that too hard or too much to ask for? Was it, really, people? I just wanted a respectful way to honor the memory of one of the greatest movies we’ve produced! I think that is a very reasonable demand!”
“Excuse me, Miss President”, said Aylwin bashfully returning to his seat, “but what exactly is this script about?”
The president pushed the screenplay across the table until it reached Aylwin’s place.
“About Mary Poppins, of course!” she spouted.
“Like a… remake of sorts?”
“No. Far better than that yet as equally unnecessary. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the movie came to be.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t get how that is going to help anyone.”
“Don’t you get it? We’re re-releasing Mary Poppins without actually releasing it! It’s genius!”