Over the past year, Escape From Tomorrow — a surreal, disturbing black-and-white movie about a family's last day at the theme park, shot guerilla-style at Disneyland and Disney World — has been discussed by cinephiles with a kind of hushed awe. How does this movie exist? How long will it be until Disney sues its producers into oblivion? And how will anyone ever get the chance to see it?
Though Escape From Tomorrow screened at both the Sundance Film Festival and Ebertfest earlier this year, many critics expressed doubt that the film would ever see a wider release due to Disney's legendarily protective legal team. But Producers Distribution Agency recently announced that they would take the risk of distributing Escape From Tomorrow in both limited theaters and video on demand on October 11 — and the just-released trailer offers a brief and startling glimpse Escape From Tomorrow's dark vision of Disney.
The trailer for Escape From Tomorrow pokes fun at the film's notoriety by opening with a title card reading "The following motion picture has not been approved for all audiences by The Walt Disney Company." From there, it's a series of brief, surreal black-and-white shots of the theme park that gradually descend into grotesque, Lynchian nightmares. "People come here because they want to feel safe," says a voiceover in the trailer. "Bad things happen everywhere. Especially here."
How does a film like this actually get made? Escape From Tomorrow has one of the strangest and most fascinating production stories in recent history. Writer/director Randy Moore shot the film on location at both Disneyland and Disney World without permission, and used a variety of evasive techniques to throw the company's security team off his trail. (Escape From Tomorrow was shot with handheld cameras, which enabled its skeleton crew to disguise themselves as tourists, and the cast read their scripts on iPhones.) Will the film's nightmarish version of Disneyland live up to all the hype? Judge for yourself when Escape From Tomorrow debuts in October.