Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A, and blah, blah, blah, what the hay? Anyway, the low-budget horror film “Escape From Tomorrow” was shot on location at Disneyland and Disney World without Disney’s permission. The film incorporates several of The Walt Disney Company’s iconic (and copyrighted) characters doing things like attempting to crush a child. Normally, attorneys for Disney would swarm like locusts onto a green leafy field, but they have decided that the best course of action, is no action at all.
Producers Distribution Agency, an arm of indie player John Sloss’ Cinetic Media (along with Abramorama and FilmBuff), is brazenly provoking Disney’s legal pit bulls with a poster that spells out the title in the company’s familiar bubbly handwriting, above which looms an image of a Mickey Mouse-like blood-soaked hand.
So, with Disney having a notoriously litigious reputation in Hollywood, their reaction to this debacle is to ignore the whole affair altogether.
Disney does have a case. The black-and-white “Escape From Tomorrow” premiered at Sundance in January. Many people believed that a Disney legal team would step in to block the film’s exhibition. Thumbing his nose at the studio, filmmaker Randy Moore took the studio’s property and brought a dark vision to it. The film is heavy with racy perversions which include Disney princesses depicted as high-class call girls and a park wide outbreak of a deadly flu virus.
Loyola Law School professor Jay Dougherty says shooting the film inside a Disney park isn’t necessarily actionable (beyond a possible trespassing claim on violation of park rules,) and “fair use” exceptions to copyright law could be a defense for using the characters in a larger narrative. But “Disney could have a stronger case regarding trademark law and trademark dilution,” he adds.
The trailer for “Escape From Tomorrow” notes that the film has not been approved by Disney. However, no disclaimer is present on the poster and the Disney style font could easily confuse ticket buyers into thinking it is studio-approved.
Disney is planning to release its own Disneyland-set movie, “Saving Mr. Banks,” in December — so ignoring “Escape From Tomorrow” is a strategy which Disney hopes will lessen the attention and cut down on box office receipts.
In doing this, the studio hopes to hurt any chances “Escape From Tomorrow” might have due to its Disney-defying reputation.
Here is the storyline for the drama/fantasy/horror feature.
In a world of fake castles and anthropomorphic rodents, an epic battle begins when an unemployed father’s sanity is challenged by a chance encounter with two underage girls on holiday.
“Escape From Tomorrow” will open in theaters on October 11th. The film stars Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Jack Dalton, Danielle Safady, Annet Mahendru, Lee Armstrong, Kimberly Ables Jindra, Trey Loney, Amy Lucas, Alison Lees-Taylor, Jakob Salvati, Mark Able, Anthony Oporta and Lex Edelman. Randy Moore wrote the screenplay and directs.