Last week, a new trailer and poster were released for director Randy Moore's surreal horror film Escape from Tomorrow, which received rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and hits theaters on October 11. While the trailer states that Walt Disney Pictures did not approve of this movie, the poster features the blood-soaked hand of Mickey Mouse, along with the title spelled out in the classic Disney font, which may confuse moviegoers who think that the film actually comes from Disney.
While many thought that the studio would try to shut the film down, insiders claim that Disney is actually giving this movie a 'free pass', ignoring it rather than giving it free publicity.
If the Mouse House were so inclined to file a lawsuit against Escape from Tomorrow, they would actually have a case. The film was shot on location at Disneyworld and Disneyland resorts without permission, featuring Disney princesses depicted as prostitutes, a resort-wide outbreak of a deadly virus and other iconic and trademarked characters attempting to crush a child. The unauthorized filming isn't necessarily an actionable offense, aside from a trespassing charge, and the use of characters could be defended by "fair use" provisions to copyright law. However, the studio has a stronger case regarding trademark law and trademark dilution, in regards to the film's Disney-themed poster.
Despite all this, sources inside the studio claim their strategy is to give Escape from Tomorrow as little attention as possible, to avoid giving the movie any free press that may help its box office receipts. In a similar case, the title controversy over Lee Daniels' the Butler is said to have helped put the drama on the public's radar, resulting in over $100 million in box office receipts.
Marketing experts surveyed by The Hollywood Reporter reveal that Disney's silence may hurt Escape from Tomorrow's chances at the box office, due to a potential lack of buzz around the film. We'll have to wait until October 11 to see how this controversial horror tale fares at the box office.