With the recent announcement of the new movie “The Further Adventures of Walt’s Frozen Head,” there has been a lot of chatter online lately about who can film at Walt Disney World. For those unfamiliar, this small budget movie is set to be released in 2017 and was partially shot on Disney property using a small crew that looked like tourists (including the actors) with filming equipment that didn’t raise any eyebrows.
Many people are infuriated that a group of people can break the rules like that and are waiting on the Mouse to pounce on them, suing them for all they’re worth. Let’s slow down and take a look at what the Walt Disney World website says under general rules. Indeed it lists under prohibited activities: “Photography, videotaping of any kind for commercial purposes.”
Indeed the production company behind “Walt’s Frozen Head” definitely violated that rule. Filming at Walt Disney World for commercial purposes definitely happens, but this is only when permission is given in advance through their media relations department. There are restrictions given on when and where you can film, how large your camera crew can be, who is in the shot and even how the final edit turns out.
“Escape From Tomorrow” was another film shot at Walt Disney World in a nearly identical manner as “Walt’s Frozen Head.” It also had a minimal crew and zero permission. It created a small firestorm with social media around the world and made a modest amount of money through selling it on iTunes, Amazon and eventually Netflix bought the streaming rights.
To date, Disney has not taken legal action against “Escape From Tomorrow” even though they clearly violated Walt Disney World policy. Possibly because the lawsuit would create very little money. To date, the film has only made $172,000. Who knows if you could actually squeeze that out of the production company? By the time Disney justifies spending money on their lawyers and court fees, they might break even at best. Perhaps there is a bigger part of this puzzle people are missing.
Thanks to YouTube, thousands of people commercially film at Walt Disney World every year. By simply signing up for an account and choosing to monetize a video, you too can “commercially” film on Disney property and make anywhere from pennies to hundreds of dollars.
In addition, there are plenty of other theme park fan sites out there that use that monetization to make a living. Some will even add sponsorships from other travel related businesses to sweeten the pot. Others will make a DVD of rides, shows and attractions and sell it directly to the consumer via their website. While I am sure to piss off several well known websites by pointing this out, believe me, Disney knows this is happening.
More importantly, Disney has yet to pursue legal action against anyone who has monetized any sort of filming on their property without permission. So why would another small budget movie start that trend? It’s entirely possible, but highly unlikely at this point. By not taking action against any other forms of commercial filming listed above, they have set the precedent on how they handle these situations. Your thoughts?
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Images Copyright: Walt’s Frozen Head, Walt Disney World, Escape From Tomorrow, Missing in the Mansion