draco 🪡🐲✏️



an unnecessarily thorough analysis of the hatbox ghost's movie design

i am not normal about this crusty bone man

• Composed on

so! after a very, VERY long wait, disney released the first teaser trailer for Haunted Mansion (2023) a few weeks ago and i have some Thoughts about it. mainly about the hatbox ghost. because i am always thinking about him for some reason. don't ask

so as you can see, the trailer is... pretty visually dark and very fast-paced, so it's kinda hard to see a lot of things. BUT, slowing it down does let us have a look at some of the more interesting bits. as i said before, i'm going to be specifically focusing on the hatbox ghost, who has 3 (almost 4) scenes in this teaser which i have overanalyzed the hell out of.

let's start with the first scene he's in.

*(i've slowed down the gifs in this post to make the details easier to see.)

like pretty much every shot in this trailer, this one is very short, about a second long. here we can see one of the mortal protagonists watch hatbox as he turns the corner at the end of a hallway. one of the things i love about the movie's version of hatbox; he has a very distinct silhouette due to his signature top hat, collared cape, and the hatbox he carries (of course), which looks more like a lantern in this version. more on that later

*sorry about the quality, it was surprisingly hard to make these gifs

slowing it down again, aside from the general silhouette, we can actually make out a few details in this.

firstly, it seems that hatbox's body goes completely skeletal and transparent in the window light; this feature is seen with a few of the other ghosts in the trailer, namely the bride and organist. this might be taking reference from his original 1969 animatronic form, whose clothes were seemingly made of clear plastic or vinyl.

now let's zoom in a bit. i sped the shot back up to normal speed to get an idea of how he moves, since this is the only full-body shot of him we have right now that's not him just standing still. even though he barely takes a step here, he seems to walk pretty slowly, and definitely has the hunched-over posture that his ride version does, even if only a little. the slow walk speed could just be because of the length of the shot or something to do with the scene it's part of; it's not clear what he's doing here, if he sees the other character down the hall, and if he does, what his intentions are in this scenario. we'll have to wait and see.

a smaller and much less noticeable detail is that he does in fact seem to be holding a cane like his in-ride design; it's very briefly visible (i think) when he lifts his arm near the end of the shot.

onto the next bit; this shot is seen in the scene where the windows and doors disappear from the "stretching room", calling back to the original ride. here we can see hatbox standing outside one of the windows for less than a second before it quickly snaps shut and vanishes. again we can only see him as a silhouette, with very few details visible aside from the shape of his cape, hat, hatbox, and possibly a little bit of hair. the lantern box design element appears again, creating a brilliant focal point for this shot and for his design in general; the bright yellow light contrasts with his dark clothing and surroundings really well.

here i've drawn a rough outline of what i can make out in his silhouette. aside from the general outline of his form, a bit of his coat and tie can be seen. the coat looks similar to his in-ride appearance, but the bow tie is new. you can actually see it a lot better in the next shot, so let's move on

now this. this is THE shot. the clearest look we have at movie hatbox in the entire trailer.

(i actuallly did a screenshot redraw of this part, using my own personal interpretation of his appearance!)

one major detail here is that he actually teleports the whole box alongside his head, which is interesting; plus, at the beginning of the shot, you can actually see him without both his head and hatbox, allowing for a better look at his upper body.

it's still very dark, but you can clearly see his hat, shoulders, and bow tie; though, strangely, his hands aren't the same bright white as his face, or blue like any of the other ghosts. he actually seems to be wearing some sort of black gloves, which i first thought was odd because none of his previous designs ever had gloves to my knowledge. however, there is one version of the hatbox ghost that not only has gloves, but also a bow tie that's very similar to the one he wears in the movie...

at the 2013 D23 expo, a prototype hatbox ghost animatronic was displayed at one of the imagineering booths. this version looked a lot like ezra, one of the hitchhiking ghosts, as he was much taller and more upright than the original animatronic. however, he still had the signature top hat, cape, jacket, and- like the movie design- a bow tie and gloves. intentionally or not, i do like how movie hatbox's looks all take inspiration from his three past designs; the transparent clothing of his 1969 figure, the gloves, height, and bow tie of his D23 prototype, and the dark clothing and general design of his current iteration.

now (as noted in the bottom corner of this edit...) this shot is still *very* dark, but i did end up noting that here hatbox's ribs seem to be exposed when illuminated by the light of his box. alongside that, his face here does look almost exactly like the animatronic, but the lighting from inside the box is... really throwing me off here. is he normally this white? is he blue like the other ghosts? the second option seems like the most likely option, with the yellow lighting making him very washed out looking.

overall, i absolutely love what we've seen of hatbox's new design so far! i'm sure it'll be a lot better and clearer in the actual movie, but i adore this new take on him based on his previous animatronic looks. just hoping he'll be good as an actual character...

so... this one's not specifically a hatbox ghost-centric shot, but it might be related. to his role in the story. here, one of the mortals is apparently possessed by hatbox, as seen by the manifestation of his top hat on their head and the slight decay of their face, exposing sunken eyes and a skeletal nose.

now, i initially thought the mortal here was Ben, one of the main protagonists. the hair and skin tone are similar to the possessed individual, but upon taking a closer look, it doesn't look like they have a beard, and their hair is longer and more wavy in appearance, with some sort of metal accessories.

after Ben, the most likely subject is the psychic (i forgot her name, sorry); she has a similar dark skin tone, no beard, and dark, wavy hair. plus, her connection with the supernatural might make her more vulnerable to possession. either that or it's a completely new character we haven't seen, which wouldn't really make sense, but i'm not disregarding the possibility.

so lastly, i have a few thoughts on what the hatbox ghost's role will be in this new movie. we don’t see much of him in the trailer, but what we do see is pretty different from the other two main ghosts (the bride and hatchet man). compared to the other two, which come across as scary axe-wielding maniacs, hatbox doesn’t seem as aggressive towards the mortals. 2 of the 3 scenes where he appears, he seems to just be observing them, mainly in the shot where the windows and doors disappear in the stretching room (maybe he’s the one doing it, who knows, but still). then there's the hallway scene, which is… really too vague to tell anything; as i mentioned earlier, either he doesn’t see the mortal at the other end of the hall, or doesn’t really care about him being there.

the third scene in the library is possibly the same scene as the danny devito clip connected to it, so in that case they’re definitely directly interacting there. again, hatbox doesn’t seem actively aggressive towards the mortal, if anything just scaring him

the possession scene, though. that's interesting.

maybe it’s just me being hopeful but i don’t think hatbox is necessarily evil. my idea would be that he's more neutral, maybe antagonist leaning in that he's biased towards supporting the other ghosts, similar to how he is in the disney kingdoms comic series. what i was thinking was that he could start off as a sort of omen or messenger, warning the family to get out before the others find them, but of course... the mortals don't.

near the end he could finally pick a side; another idea i had was where the others decide that the mortals are right and that they should move on, but hatbox isn’t having it, he’s been there too long to just be kicked out all of a sudden; alternatively, he could realize his friends have gone too far and try to defend the mortals.

so tl:dr, i think that hatbox will be a neutral party until the end of the film where he either decides to help or harm the mortals. either that, or a straight-up deranged but still enjoyable villain. i think a purely villainous angle could work; disney really needs a good, pure evil villain for once, just saying. i'm not sure how it'll all end, obviously, but i'm excited to see how the story goes.

so yeah! that's my take on the hatbox ghost's movie design and my theories on what role he'll play in the plot. again, really looking forward to this film, hopefully it'll be decent at least.

thank you for reading this thing that i definitely didn't spend several hours on. hurry back

Composed on

finally able to access this site on my pc, yay. anyways

helloooooo foolish mortals, my name's draco

19 year old she/they ace lesbian disaster with way too many random interests

let's see. well first off i'm an artist (art here). i mostly do digital fanart/oc/creature design drawings but also am into cross stitch, plush making, web design, doll customization, writing fanfic once in a while, and starting/brainstorming projects i never end up completing. every time. also trying to learn 3d modeling, video game design, and embroidery, i think i'm okay at some of those as of now but i'm still working on improving

as for like. fandom interests. i liiiiiiike...

movies and shows: the owl house, steven universe (mostly just the zircons), the cuphead show, idk if this counts but minecraft hardcore let's play videos, whatever interesting documentaries i find on youtube, atlantis: the lost empire, encanto, the haunted mansion (2003)

viddy games: minecraft, my singing monsters, pet sites such as 4dopt and furvilla and whatnot, dreamlight valley, stardew valley (lotta valleys. huh), splatoon 3, miitopia, cuphead, spore, the sims 4

other: disney parks/general theme park history, speculative biology

and. biggest hyperfixation as of right now (2018-present)

the haunted mansion (yes, the ride at disneyland/disney world)

specifically this guy. mr hatbox ghost. i wont get into it here but theres a LOT to say about this guy and the ride's lore in general. warning you rn im very passionate about this stuff

what was i talking about. oh yea uhhh thats my about me post the end thanks for reading

wubbox :)