Escape from Tomorrow is a 2013 American fantasy-horror film, the debut film of writer-director Randy Moore. It stars Roy Abramsohn as a man having increasingly disturbing experiences and visions during the last day of a family vacation to the Walt Disney World theme park. It premiered in January at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and on April 20, 2013, it was shown at Roger Ebert’s 15th annual film festival in Champaign, Illinois, where the film was hand selected by Ebert just weeks before his death. The festival’s program claims the film is “ultimately about the terror of ubiquitous entertainment.”
The film became one of the most talked-about films at Sundance, and then received some attention in the national media, because Moore had made most of it on location at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland without permission from The Walt Disney Company. Since Disney has a reputation for being fiercely protective of its intellectual property, the cast and crew used guerrilla filmmaking techniques to avoid attracting attention.
The unique nature of the film shoot dictated steps not normally taken in filmmaking, such as charting the position of the sun weeks in advance since they could not use lighting equipment. Scenes were rehearsed and blocked in hotel rooms, rather than the actual locations. Actors and crew entered the parks in small groups to avoid attracting attention.They used their phones to communicate and store information such as the script, the phones were also used to record sound, in addition to digital recorders taped to each actor’s body that were left running all day. The film was shot using two Canon EOS 5D Mark II and one Canon EOS 1D Mark IVdigital single-lens reflex cameras, which helped the filmmakers look more like typical park visitors. To compensate for their inability to control the lighting, the film was shot in monochrome mode.
After principal photography was complete, Moore was so determined to keep the project a secret from Disney that he edited it in South Korea. Sundance similarly declined to discuss the film in detail before it was shown.
Many who saw it speculated that Disney would likely take legal action to prevent the film from being shown outside the festival circuit due to the legal issues involved and the negative depiction of the parks. However, it’s unclear what the basis of such a legal claim on Disney’s part could be. Moore took care to avoid direct copyright infringement of songs or films played as part of attractions, and intellectual property law is less clear on the other aspects of the film. Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu does not think Disney would have any defensible intellectual property claim. “As commentary on the social ideals of Disney World, it seems to clearly fall within a well-recognized category of fair use, and therefore probably will not be stopped by a court using copyright or trademark laws.” A simultaneous theatrical and video on-demand release is scheduled for October 11, 2013.