There's a little movie called "Escape from Tomorrow" that's causing a whole lot of fuss in the industry. If you haven't heard of it or are unaware of the controversy it's causing, please read on.
What Is It? "Escape From Tomorrow" is, ostensibly, a low-budget psychological horror film about a father who, while taking his family on vacation, suffers a mental breakdown. Soon, the boundaries between reality and a nightmarish fantasy world begin to dissolve. The movie was a sensation at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where people applauded its cost-effective inventiveness, storytelling skill, and stark black-and-white photography.
What's The Big Deal? Well, all of the darkness and psychological intensity happens at the Walt Disney World theme park in Florida. Director Randy Clark filmed at both the Florida park and at Disneyland in California surreptitiously, without alerting Disney officials. After the Sundance premiere, Disney would only state that they were "aware" of the film, but declined to comment.
What Is Disney Going To Do About It? In a word: nothing. Some things had to be altered, mostly due to music rights issues (including the music from "It's a Small World"), and 20 minutes had been shaved from the Sundance version's running time, but other than that, "Escape from Tomorrow" is going to escape into the world unaltered. Most of the movie arguably falls underneath the umbrella of "fair use," which is a legal term used to protect satire, and, as a recent Hollywood Reporter piece pointed out, Disney is unwilling to play into the movie's aggressive ad campaign, which features a bloody Mickey Mouse glove and the curlicue font reminiscent of Walt Disney's handwriting. A high-profile lawsuit would only further the movie's reach and attention, which is something Disney wants to avoid at all costs. Disney believes that doing nothing is actually doing something. They might be right.
Who Is This Movie For? That actually might be the best question of all. The movie has been described as "David Lynch-ian." So it's definitely for fans of far-out cinema, and also, in a weird way, Disney freaks, who can't wait to see their favorite icons and characters re-appropriated in new and interesting ways. Those who believe in the magic of Disney probably won't be swayed by a weird black-and-white horror movie anyway.
How Can You See It? It will have a limited theatrical release and VOD release on October 11th. Chances are, it will not be playing at the AMC Theaters in either Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Just going to go out on a limb on that one.