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Disney-centric 'Escape From Tomorrow': What changed post-Sundance?

October 11, 2013|By Steven Zeitchik
  • A shot from Randy Moore's "Escape From Tomorrow."
A shot from Randy Moore's "Escape From Tomorrow." (PDA )

Randy Moore’s “Escape From Tomorrow” was the underground hit of the Sundance Film Festival in January, in large part because he shot it without permission at Disney theme parks.

But when the movie — which follows a married father of two (Roy Abramsohn) as he slowly comes undone on a Disney family vacation -- hits theaters and VOD this weekend courtesy of upstart distributor PDA, it will look somewhat different than the cut that screened in Utah.

About 14 minutes different, in fact.

The movie has been shortened for a new cut and now clocks in at a far leaner 104 minutes.

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In an interview, Moore said that most of the changes were for narrative concision, not legal obligation. That was particularly true in the third act, when the movie turns increasingly surrealist in the man’s pursuit of two young female French tourists, encounters an aging princess who may well be a child-snatcher and has a bizarre interrogation-like scene with a Siemens scientist straight out of "Lost's" Dharma Initiative mythology.

“We just thought it worked better from a story standpoint to make things tighter,” Moore said. “It wasn’t really about legal concerns.” (He may be on to something: One of the biggest criticisms coming out of Park City was the length of the film, particularly that third act.)

There is, however, a disclaimer at the front of the film explaining that Disney did not authorize this film (likely somewhat self-evident, though when it comes to trademark law, one can’t be too sure).

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There is also a shot that’s been added. The Siemens scientist can now be seen (minor spoiler alert; please skip ahead to the next paragraph if you’d rather not know) having his head pop off, making it clear he’s animatronic. The decision was made for legal reasons — to bolster the point that this is social commentary, thus giving it added free-speech protection — though it also ups the whimsy and black-comedy factor.

Maybe the biggest change is the fact that Moore approached the release a bit differently than he did making the movie.

“When I made the film, I deliberately didn't want to talk to any lawyers because I didn’t want that to affect how I shot the movie,” he said. And now? “I thought it was good to have a few of those conversations.”

But only a few. The movie is still plenty explicit about the company it's targeting.


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