News Column

Guerrilla Disney film 'Escape From Tomorrow' headed to theaters

August 19, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 19--EXCLUSIVE: "Escape From Tomorrow," the unauthorized independent film shot guerrilla-style at Disney theme parks, is headed to movie theaters and TV sets, resolving a long-running question about the commercial status of one of the year's most provocative movies.

Randy Moore's black-and-white Surrealist feature will be released commercially by PDA, the distribution offshoot of the sales and management company Cinetic Media, on Oct. 11, according to a PDA spokesman. It will play on movie-theater screens in many of the nation's top markets as well as be made available day-and-date on cable VOD, the spokesman said.

PDA has a history of releasing bold fare, previously bringing out the Banksy-themed art-world meditation "Exit Through the Gift Shop" in 2010 and the doc hit "Senna," about the late Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, two summers ago. Cinetic, which previously represented the movie's distribution rights, had garnered interest from distributors but ultimately decided it would attempt to bring the movie to market via PDA.

Written and directed by first-timer Moore, the feature generated a storm of publicity when it premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and also raised questions about whether any company would be willing to shoulder the risk of releasing it. The movie centers on an alienated man (Roy Abramsohn) taking a family vacation as he slowly begins to get caught up in a conspiracy -- or loses his mind. The version of the movie that will be released commercially has been re-cut and is about 15 minutes shorter than the edition that played Sundance, which some criticized as too long.

With its edgy tone, the movie is expected to appeal to a young audience and also could make one or more stops at a post-summer film festival. Though it is a narrative study of one character and contains a helping of genre elements, the film also was believed by some to be a political critique on, among other things, the forced sunniness of Disney theme parks.

Moore made the movie in a highly unorthodox way, using hidden cameras at Disney-owned parks in Anaheim and Orlando. A number of the shots luxuriate in and sometimes undermine Disney imagery -- in one scene, Epcot Center blows up -- but Moore shot it entirely without Disney permission, choosing to use a skeletal crew and often communicating with his cast from a phone across the park so as not to attract attention.

Disney has yet to respond publicly to the movie. The film has secured so-called E&O insurance, which protects distributors against liabilities, and legal experts have moreover said that Disney would have a weak case if it tried to stop it or collect damages--though the company could still decide to try to bog the release down in lawsuits, a move that no doubt would also fuel publicity for the film.

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