Filmmaker Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow may do the near impossible: reach a movie screen near you. His fantasy-horror film about a middle aged man on the throes of an existential crisis was one of the sensations of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, but things looked dire for distribution. The reason – Moore shot his expressive ‘neo-noir’ film guerrilla-style at the Disneyland and Disney World theme parks, secretly using the location without the consent of the famously litigious Disney.
Escape From Tomorrow tells the story of a seemingly ordinary man named Jim White (played by Roy Abramsohn) who, while on vacation at the Walt Disney World resort with his family, learns that he has been laid off from his job. He puts off telling his family the unsettling news in an effort not to ruin the vacation when he becomes infatuated by a duo of French tourists. What unfolds is a hallucinatory experience in which Jim can’t distinguish what’s real or imagined, or while journeying in the happiest place on Earth. Suddenly animatronic faces becomes blurred and Disney princesses start doubling as escorts. Iconic Disney attractions like Space Mountain and a Main Street parade make appearances in the film.
Moore secretly shot footage in Disney theme parks using small Canon cameras and iPhones and edited the film in secret in South Korea. The film made it’s startling debut at Sundance this year, and also screened at the 15th Annual Roger Ebert Film Festival (handpicked by the famed critic shortly before his death), and earned some glowing notices. Drew McWeeney wrote: “It is not possible that this film exists. It is not possible that they shot long scripted sequences on the actual rides. It is not possible that I just saw a film in which it is suggested and then shown that the various Disney princesses all work as high-priced hookers who sell their wares to wealthy Asian businessmen. It simply cannot be true. I grew up in Florida, and I have been going to Walt Disney World my entire life. I worked at that park. I’ve been there as a child, as a teenager, as an employee, and as a parent. I’ve done Disney sitting on my father’s shoulders, and I’ve done the Disney parks with my kids sitting on my shoulders. It is a huge part of my DNA, and I can tell you that there is no way Randy Moore pulled off what I saw tonight. It is a film that should not exist by any rational definition. And yet … not only does it exist, but it’s fascinating.” Most expected Escape From Tomorrow would never see the light of day.
Today comes word that PDA and FilmBuff have acquired the film and will plan a fall release, as well as a VOD accompaniment. The film will open in limited release October 11th.