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RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN

About The Production
For many moviegoers in the 1970s, "Escape to Witch Mountain” and its sequel, "Return from Witch Mountain,” were popular science-fiction adventures that became warmly recalled touchstones of youth as those audiences grew from children to adults. The central duo of both films, alien children Tony and Tia, became icons of sorts, their adventures fondly recalled by scores of viewers who introduced the films to their own children by watching television, videotapes or DVDs.

Such was the popularity of these films that Gunn Films' founder, producer Andrew Gunn, asked to attempt a new version of the "Witch Mountain” story once he made a deal to operate his company at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. He had found success with his remake of the studio's "Freaky Friday” in 2003 and wanted a chance to create something new for "Witch Mountain.” But this re-imagined version would be a much more action-filled story, complete with breathtaking sequences and state-of-the-art special effects.

"It is no accident we ended up with the title ‘Race to Witch Mountain,'” says Gunn, "because once this film starts, it takes off like a shot. We wanted it to be a ride that, once you got on, you weren't getting off until the end.”

Director Andy Fickman, who had just completed the hit comedy "The Game Plan” for Walt Disney Pictures, heard that Gunn was contemplating a reworking of the "Witch Mountain” franchise.

"I loved ‘Escape to Witch Mountain'; it was one of my all-time favorite films as a kid,” says Fickman. "Nothing excited me more than the movie as well as reading the book it was based upon. So when I was given an opportunity after ‘The Game Plan' to continue my relationship with Disney, I told them I wanted to make ‘Race to Witch Mountain' as memorable for audiences today as it was for me in 1975.”

For Fickman, having a fascination for the unexplained and inexplicable began almost at birth—he was born in Roswell, New Mexico, a small town made infamous by a supposed crash of a UFO that the government and the military allegedly covered up. And in "Race to Witch Mountain,” that predilection for the mysterious (along with the Roswellian theme of the collision of two worlds) proves central to the plot of the high-octane story and highly enjoyable storyline.

It is, indeed, that element of the ordinary meeting the extraordinary that he found so compelling. "‘Race to Witch Mountain' is a great action-adventure story,” says Fickman. "It is a fantastic journey in which the most unlikely of heroes end up saving not one world, but two worlds.”

Having signed on to the production, Fickman went to work tailoring stunts and action sequences that might interest his "The Game Plan” star, Dwayne Johnson, in coming aboard the project.

"Having Dwayne Johnson be involved would be a dream come true, I thought,” Fickman says. "He showed so much heart and warmth and charm in ‘The Game Plan,' and I wanted to combine that with more action than he has ever seen in one movie. I wanted him to see that this new film would mean bigger stunts, scarier thrills, greater characters and more adventure than ever before. I wanted him to know we were racing up a much bigger mountain.”

As it turns out, the film was not a hard sell to Johnson, who was a fan as well of the original movies in the 1970s.

"I got a phone call from Andy, who invited me to lunch to discuss a new project for us to do together,” Johnson says. "We sat down and he asked me if I was familiar with ‘Witch Mountain.' Not only was I familiar, I told him, I loved the films when I was a kid. In fact, I had just watched ‘Escape to Witch Mountain' with my little girl! When Andy pitched me this great story that made the whole thing a compelling and contemporary

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