Summit Entertainment Presents
In association with Emmett/Furla Films A Mark Canton
Directed by Mikael Håfstrӧm Screenplay by Miles Chapman and Arnell Jesko
Story by Miles Chapman
Produced by Mark Canton, Randall Emmett, Remington Chase, Robbie Brenner and Kevin King-Templeton Executive Producers George Furla, Mark Stewart, Zack Schiller, Alexander Boies, Nicolas Stern, Jeff Rice and Brandt Andersen Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Sam Neill, Vinnie Jones, Faran Tahir, with Vincent D’Onofrio and Amy Ryan Run Time: 116 minutes
Rated R for violence and language throughout
In Theaters October 18, 2013
Clarissa Colmenero / Summit NY 212.386.6874 email@example.com
Mike Rau / Summit LA 310.255.3232 firstname.lastname@example.org
ESCAPE PLAN The world’s foremost expert in prison security is trapped in a brutal black-ops fortress housing the world’s most dangerous criminals in Escape Plan, a high-octane action-thriller driven by the explosive star power of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ray Breslin (Stallone) is the world’s leading authority on prisons—building them, securing them and, most importantly, breaking out of them. Handsomely paid to engineer real-life jailbreaks in high-security correctional facilities, Ray been incarcerated in every super-max facility run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons—with a 100 percent escape rate.
When Ray and his associates at B & C Security, Abigail (Amy Ryan), Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) and Lester (Vincent D’Onofrio) are offered double their normal rate to evaluate The Tomb, an off-the-grid, privately-run maximum-security prison constructed using Breslin’s own stringent protocols, Breslin can’t resist the challenge. To replicate an actual imprisonment, the location of the prison is to remain undisclosed and Breslin will be unable to communicate with his team in any way.
Once inside, Breslin discovers that The Tomb is a pitiless high-tech warehouse for some of the world’s deadliest lawbreakers. A seemingly endless maze of glass cells kept under constant video surveillance and surrounded by heavily armed, masked guards, The Tomb seems to offer no possibility of escape. Worse, the sadistic warden, Willard Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), makes it his personal mission to break the wills of uncooperative inmates—like Breslin—by any means possible.
When Breslin attempts to use the prearranged evacuation code to free himself, Hobbes claims not to know what he’s talking about. Realizing he’s been set up by an unknown enemy, Breslin has no choice but to turn to the prison’s mysterious strongman, Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), to help him survive the violence and treachery of The Tomb long enough to unlock its secrets.
Escape Plan stars Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables, Rocky), Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Last Stand, The Terminator), Jim Caviezel (“Person of Interest,” The Passion of the Christ), Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (The Frozen Ground, Fire with Fire), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, The Hunt for Red October), Vinnie Jones (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), Faran Tahir (“Warehouse 13,” Star Trek), with Vincent D’Onofrio (“Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” Full Metal Jacket) and Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, “The Office”).
Escape Plan is directed by acclaimed Swedish director Mikael Håfström (The Rite, Evil) from a screenplay by Miles Chapman and Arnell Jesko and story by Miles Chapman. Producers are Mark Canton (300: Rise of an Empire, 300 and Immortals), Randall Emmett (End of Watch, 2 Guns), Remington Chase (End of Watch, Alex Cross), Robbie Brenner (The Fighter, 21 & Over) and Kevin King-Templeton (The Expendables, Rocky Balboa). Executive producers are George Furla (The Frozen Ground, Rambo), Mark Stewart, Zack Schiller (Grandma’s Boy, Anger Management), Alexander Boies, Nicolas Stern (The Frozen Ground, Empire State), Jeff Rice (Empire State, A Single Shot) and Brandt Andersen (2 Guns, The Letter). Co-producers are Stepan Martirosyan, Kelly Dennis and Brandon Grimes.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION The golden age of Hollywood action films was dominated by a pair of hallmark stars, broad-shouldered, square-jawed loners who faced down their adversaries with unflinching determination. For more than 20 years, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger vied for supremacy in a quintessentially American movie genre, but never stood side by side in an adventure that pitted the two giants against a worthy foe.
Never, that is, until Escape Plan, in which fittingly, the enemy is no mere human, but a chillingly prophetic vision of the ultimate prison—The Tomb, a bottomless black hole into which some of the most dangerous men alive disappear, never to be seen again.
Penned by first-time screenwriter Miles Chapman and Arnell Jesko, Escape Plan follows security expert Ray Breslin on a journey through a brutal world that hints at the future, but remains firmly rooted in today. Hired to ferret out the flaws in The Tomb’s monolithic security system, Breslin becomes trapped in a maximum-security facility designed based on his own recommendations, but without regard to law or human rights. Unable to find a way out on his own, Breslin is forced to team up with fellow detainee Emil Rottmayer for help with his daring escape plan.
Stallone recognized in the script’s innovative concept and nuanced narrative a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the action genre. “Today’s audience is intelligent and demanding,” he explains. “You have to give them something unusual, like pairing Arnold and me. This is a film that I don’t think people are going to expect from us. We were on a parallel career course during what I would call the golden age of hardcore action films, but this is something new. It is not just guns and flames and bombs. Our characters really have to use their brains to get out. There’s a tremendous amount of action in it, but it is very much a thinking man’s adventure, and it plays into the mature part of our careers.”
For producer Mark Canton, who has produced a host of raging actioners including 300 and Immortals, the pairing of the two screen legends was a long time coming. “I have always wanted to see Sly and Arnold onscreen together,” Canton says. “It has been surprisingly difficult to find a project that would bring out the best in both of them. They are both great in TheExpendables, but Arnold has a very specific and small role. Here they have a real partnership that pits them head to head and mano a mano.
“Sly and Arnold are masters of what they do,” Canton adds. “Sly loves to write and he’s an acclaimed director, so he had a very strong point of view about his character. Arnold knows what he needs to know and he knew how to play off of Sly. What interested both of them was that they are not playing paper cutouts. At this point in their careers, they don’t have anything to prove. They want satisfying roles and a good environment to work in and this project had all those opportunities for them.”
Producer Randall Emmett adds, “Sylvester is a consummate filmmaker and he was instrumental in shaping the film from script and thru production, giving us invaluable input.
Screenwriter Chapman conducted extensive research for the project, spending months studying prison architecture with an expert from UCLA and devouring books on the subject. “It was important that everything be plausible,” the writer says. “The Tomb is the ultimate prison. It’s Guantanamo Bay 3.0, only it’s run by a for-profit company, which allows its clients—governments, multi-national corporations, influential individuals—to deny any knowledge of its existence. If you’re powerful and wealthy enough, you can make people disappear forever. We are right at the boundaries of reality with a facility that could, and perhaps has been, built today. There’s nothing in the film that is technologically impossible.”
“Miles and Arnell have written a really compelling script,” says Canton. “Escape Plan is an unusual combination of high-velocity intrigue and mystery. There is no lack of testosterone in this movie. It features a lot of ass kicking, a lot of action and a lot of good guys and bad guys. But it’s also a brilliantly conceived puzzle and, if we’ve done our job right, the audience will not be ahead of what’s happening on screen.”
In a chilling reference to the real-life U.S. government practice of “extraordinary rendition,” the prisoners held in The Tomb have been “disappeared,” drugged and abducted, then spirited away to a remote and undisclosed location. Accused of an array of crimes that threaten world order, they are held indefinitely, without any kind of trial or sentencing.
“Once you get there, you have no idea where in the world you are,” says Chapman. “You never see the sky. There are no routines, no set meal times, no scheduled shift changes. All points of reference are taken away to disorient and break the wills of the detainees. Unfortunately for Ray Breslin, The Tomb was built according to his own guidelines to be escape-proof.”
Producer Randall Emmett, co-chair of Emmett/Furla Films, found the idea that the world’s foremost expert on prison security is trapped in a prison designed to his own specifications to be extremely compelling, but it was the script’s multiple twist and turns that really got his attention. “When we learn that he has been set up by persons unknown, it becomes even more intriguing,” Emmett says. “There were so many other elements that I never saw coming, like the location of the prison. That reveal totally blew me away.”
For Kevin King-Templeton, a longtime associate of Stallone and producer of TheExpendables franchise as well as Escape Plan, the script’s unusual story and sharp, economical dialogue was a powerful draw. “It was unlike anything I’d ever read,” he says. “The twists will shock the audience. Nothing is what it appears to be.”
If The Tomb were to exist in real life, the lack of adherence to any human rights conventions would ensure that it was a top-secret, covert operation, King-Templeton says. “The idea of extraordinary rendition, imprisoning people without a trial and denying them any kind of human rights in the wake of war on terror, that’s part of what separates this from other prison-escape movies.”
The producers realized that combining eye-popping action, brilliantly imagined futuristic visuals and character-driven drama in a single film would require a deft hand at the helm. They knew they had found everything they needed when they met with Swedish director Mikael Håfström. The director’s résumé reaches across the Atlantic, with films that range from Hollywood productions like The Rite, a horror-thriller starring Oscar®-winner Anthony Hopkins, to the Oscar®-nominated Swedish drama, Evil. Escape Plan, with its epic scope and slowly unraveling mysteries, is his most ambitious project to date.
“Mikael understood the material and the characters,” says Emmett. “He also understood that we wanted to make a big action movie that will entertain people, as well as a quality-driven film. He was the best person to blend those elements together seamlessly.”
Håfström’s ability to problem solve—much in the same way Ray Breslin does in the film—helped make him the ideal director for the project, according to Chapman. “He breaks situations down in an almost mathematical way. At the same time, the heartbeat of the movie is very visceral. This is a great adventure at its core. Mikael understood that and recognized the scope of the story. And he captured both sides of the movie with an awesome sense of humor.”
Håfström says he was attracted by the screenplay’s fresh take on a proven genre. “The twists are great. We all like to be surprised by a situation or a character. And, of course, to have the opportunity to do it with Sylvester Stallone was something that I couldn’t resist. Then when Arnold became attached, it was almost too overwhelming to think I would be working with two such iconic action stars.”
The project offers more than just twists and action, however, says the director. “It’s a rich movie with layered, interesting characters, as well as a great adventure. Sly’s character carries with him a dark past that is revealed during the film and Arnold’s character has a lot of secrets in his back pocket. Watching these two characters get to know each other and reveal their history is what really drives the film. That for me was the main reason to dig into it.”
Seeing his script come to life in this way has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Chapman, who says the film’s No. 1 goal is to entertain. “The movies I love tell a great story with real characters, humor and larger-than-life action, so you care about what happens. I hope what we’ve provided is intelligent and thrilling entertainment.”
Escape Plan is designed as a nonstop thrill ride, according to Emmett. “And when you get off our ride, you are going to be fully satisfied. It is packed with adrenaline, but there is also a lot of intense emotion in addition to the action. You are going to see two of the most iconic action stars in history on screen together for two hours and that will be something really special. Casting Arnold & Sylvester in the same movie was a dream pairing. These two iconic action figures have excited and thrilled movie audiences worldwide and having them on the same film playing off each other would definitely satisfy their legions of fans.”
Producer Mark Canton notes that after four decades making movies, his mission remains the same. “I always aim to give audiences a movie they can only experience properly in a movie theater,” he says. “And I feel very excited about this picture. It doesn’t matter if you’re an 18-year-old college kid or a 50-year-old professional man or woman. The sheer originality of the project, along with the level of acting talent and the unique style that our director brings to it offers something for everyone.”
CASTING ESCAPE PLAN Ray Breslin, the protagonist of Escape Plan, is a professional escape artist. With no tools other than his formidable intellect, he identifies the weaknesses of a prison in order to prevent breakouts like the one that changed his life forever. A unique combination of fierce intelligence and old-fashioned tough-guy resilience, Breslin has conquered every obstacle put in his path—until he confronts the challenge of a lifetime: escaping from the ultra-high-security prison known as The Tomb.
Breslin has an uncanny ability to take the bits and pieces he observes in his environment and use them to construct a mental schematic of the physical and personal elements around him. “He has an unusually analytical mind,” says writer Miles Chapman. “He’s able to identify weak points in the prison structure as well as vulnerable points in the human structure of the prison—the guards, the warden, the doctor—and exploit those flaws. He’s been able to break out of every prison he’s been in, but when he enters The Tomb, what seemed to be a routine job turns into his worst nightmare.”
For Chapman, no actor could have embodied the complexities of Ray Breslin better than Sylvester Stallone. “Breslin has to be believable as a prison inmate, but also as the smartest guy in the room,” says Chapman. “Sly is perfect for both those things, as well as for capturing the essence of an alpha male who’s haunted by the past.”
The character’s cunning and resourcefulness made him irresistible to the actor. Ray takes observations that might seem inconsequential to the average man and uses them to fashion ingenious and unstoppable escape plans. “He might count how many footsteps a guard has to take to get from one place to another, or how often he looks at his watch,” says Stallone. “But The Tomb is unlike any prison he’s ever seen before. It seems absolutely escape-proof. And even if Ray gets out, the location ensures that he will have nowhere to go.”
Stallone found the character and the story compelling, believable and utterly unpredictable. “I have read so many scripts that I can pretty much see by page 30 how the story is going to turn out,” he says. “Reading this script, I never knew was going to happen. By the time I got to the middle, I was flabbergasted. I didn’t see that coming.”
The star’s work ethic and unflagging enthusiasm for the project was inspiring to everyone on set, according to King-Templeton. “Sly is the consummate professional,” he says. “It was a 50-day shoot and I think he worked 47 of them. He’s first to the set, he’s never late. He reads his script, he knows his lines and he knows everyone else’s lines. This is his passion, so he has input on the dialogue and wants to collaborate very closely with the director.”
As an acclaimed director himself, Stallone found much to admire in Mikael Håfström’s approach to filming, specifically citing his discipline and creativity, as well as the attention he pays to each actor. “With Mikael, very little is left to chance,” says Stallone. “He’s very exacting. He had specific intentions for each character. Some directors are more interested in the choreography of the shot, but I believe if you don’t direct the actors, the film risks becoming a hollow shell. He doesn’t allow that to happen.”
When Breslin figures out that he’s been set up, his only hope of escape lies in fellow detainee Emil Rottmayer, a mysterious figure who wields enormous power within the prison population. The alliance between the pair is fraught with mistrust, but each recognizes that the other is his last best hope for freedom.
“Ray can’t trust anyone in The Tomb,” says Stallone. “He was duped into coming there and is tremendously suspicious of everyone around him. All of a sudden, Rottmayer wants to befriend him. Ray has to make a choice: blow him off and make a substantial enemy or try and play him before he plays Ray. It becomes a chess game.”
The actor who plays Rottmayer had to be a match for Stallone, both physically as well as in terms of sheer star power. “When Sly came on, it energized everybody,” says Chapman. “But then the question was who would play Rottmayer, who is really a co-lead. It seemed like a tall order until Stallone made a bold suggestion for the part—Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
The timing was perfect for Schwarzenegger. His six years as governor of California had recently ended and he was ready to segue back into acting. “He was very enthusiastic about this project,” Håfström says. “We talked and he was on board right away. Working with these two extremely professional guys has been a real treat for me as a director. They were always prepared, always on time and they created a great atmosphere on the set.”
Before he arrived at The Tomb, Rottmayer worked for a mysterious cyber terrorist named Victor Mannheim. The elusive Mannheim is a technological Robin Hood capable of engineering a financial collapse that could lead to a worldwide wide monetary crisis. As his former head of security, Rottmayer is believed to know Mannheim’s whereabouts. Revealing this information is the price of his freedom, but thus far, he has refused. Schwarzenegger plays the character with the deadpan humor and native shrewdness that belie his beefcake beginnings.
“Rottmayer is a mysterious character,” says Chapman. “He reveals himself bit by bit. Arnold brings the iconography of Schwarzenegger with him, so you think you know him, but then you realize that maybe you don’t. His natural charisma and stature are important to the character.”
Stallone had already had a hand in engineering Schwarzenegger’s return to the screen, arranging for him to shoot a small part in the first Expendables movie while he was still governor. “We shot four hours on a Saturday only, since it was my day off,” says Schwarzenegger. “Then I did four days on the second Expendables after I left office. We knew we had a certain chemistry, so we were actively looking for something where we could appear in the whole movie together.”
After almost 30 years as fierce competitors who forged careers in the same genre and pursued many of the same roles, Stallone and Schwarzenegger had also become great friends. “Our competiveness brought out the best of our abilities,” says Stallone. “We just kept pushing the envelope. Like the competition between Ali and Frazier, it made us work that much harder.”
“Sly and I were very competitive in the early days,” agrees Schwarzenegger. “It was always about who had the most cuts, the best muscle separation, the least amount of body fat, as well as who had the biggest guns and the biggest on-screen body count. This kind of competition was continuous. But we always appreciated each other’s talent.”
The competition has given way to mutual respect. “Sly is a terrific director, an unbelievable writer and a very good actor,” says Schwarzenegger. “He had an endless number of ideas about how each scene could be better and Mikael was open-minded enough to listen. He is a very strong director with a very clear vision of what the scene should be and a perfectionist who rehearsed and tweaked and reshaped things until they worked.”
Canton says the chance to finally work with the two superstars was well worth the wait. “Sly and Arnold know what’s expected of them,” he says. “They train for it. Most people half their age couldn’t do what they do and that’s the greatness of these two guys. It’s phenomenal to see two icons in the same scene. There’s a weight to it that you don’t often see.”
Breslin and Rottmayer’s mutual adversary is The Tomb’s sadistic warden, Willard Hobbes, played by Jim Caviezel. Hobbes rules the prison with an iron fist and a taste for torture. According to Stallone, Chapman has painted a devastating portrait of a man trapped by his own creation. “He seems to be a man who punishes himself as much as he does the prisoners. What man in his right mind would be in The Tomb of his own free will?”
Hobbes is one of the screenwriter’s favorite characters. “He’s younger than Breslin and therefore he represents a new generation,” says Chapman. “He’s used Breslin’s life’s work to build the next big thing in prison security and now he feels he’s smarter than Breslin. Jim brought all sorts of fun stuff to the character. As a screenwriter, I write it and hope it’s a good blueprint for everybody. To see it brought to life by actors like Jim is really gratifying.”
Caviezel was excited to take on the role of the warden for a number of reasons. “The first thing I look at is the overall screenplay and how everything works together,” says the actor. “I thought this was an unusually good combination of elements. I was impressed by the director, and you can’t find two bigger motion-picture heroes than Stallone and Schwarzenegger. When I looked at Hobbes, I thought I could do something interesting that wouldn’t just make him a typical villain.”
Caviezel enjoyed the gamesmanship that the role required of him and tried to find the sympathetic side of an undeniably evil character. “Hobbes needs to prevent these people from entering into society,” he points out. “They are the worst of the worst, for the most part. He battles them psychologically as well as physically, especially Breslin. And he will win, he has no doubt about it.
“The detainees are almost like his children, in a twisted way,” the actor continues. “He wants them to be perfect. But if you break his rules, he will pull the life right out of you—very slowly. And you won’t get to die when you want to. He will choose that moment.”
Caviezel was thrilled to be working with his illustrious cast mates, recalling that when he first came to Los Angeles from Alberta, he worked out to “Eye of the Tiger.” He even has a secret history with both of them. “When I first started out, I worked as a waiter,” he says. “At George H. W. Bush’s birthday party in 1991, I served Sly a glass of champagne. I also worked an event with Arnold and I remember him asking me for something and I said, ‘I’ll be back.’ And he said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s my line.’”
When he’s planning a prison break, Breslin’s lifeline on the outside are his associates at B & C Security, including Abigail Ross, played by Amy Ryan. “Abigail is Breslin’s best friend,” says Chapman. “She runs the company for him when he’s away, but she’s also somebody who’s always there for him. Amy is a subtle, strong actress who brings a groundedness and a great sense of reality to the character. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
Abigail is a jack-of-all-trades, according to Emmett, able to handle explosives, drive a getaway car or balance a spreadsheet, as needed. “She’s Breslin’s right hand. Amy Ryan is the gift of gifts in that part. She is an Oscar®-nominated actress, a great stage actress and she shines in an action-based movie, as well. Actors of her caliber are rare.”
Ryan was looking for a change of pace after playing a string of suburban mothers and thought that Abigail represented a sharp turn away from those characters. “She’s a whip-smart businesswoman who gets to blow up a car,” she says. “That is pretty far from the ladies I had been playing. I would call her a no-nonsense, sarcastic, fearless character, which I certainly enjoyed.”
More than anyone else at B & C, Abigail is skeptical of the offer to investigate The Tomb. The set-up violates every rule and protocol that they follow. “It just feels wrong to her, but Breslin wants to do it,” says Ryan. “How do you say no to Sylvester Stallone? To be in an action film with these guys is a bit surreal, but luckily, I got to sit in air-conditioned comfort, while they did all the big stunts.”
Hush, B & C Security’s street-smart computer wizard, is played by GRAMMY®-winning recording artist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. A former hacker, Hush met Breslin in prison and the security expert helped get Hush on the straight and narrow after he finished his sentence. “I loved the idea of Curtis playing a role that isn’t the most obvious choice for him,” says Chapman. “Hush is the tech prodigy who keeps all the company’s computer systems up and running, as well as being able to do a little unauthorized research when he has to. And because he’s an ex-con as well, he has an understanding of what Breslin is up against that the others don’t have.”
Once again, it was Stallone who instigated a bit of unusual, but inspired, casting. “Initially, Curtis was being considered for the role of one of the prisoners in The Tomb,” says Emmett, who is a partner with the rapper in the production company Cheetah Vision. “But Sly wanted him to play something completely unexpected. As Curtis branches out more and more as an actor, he is always pushing himself to take on roles people aren’t used to seeing in him, so he was thrilled to take the part.”
“This character is very different from anything I’ve done in the past,” agrees Jackson. “Just like Breslin recognized the value of Hush’s skills, Sly and the director saw something in me that wasn’t obvious, so I hope that when fans see the movie, they will be able to focus on the character and the acting, and not the fact that it’s 50 Cent on screen.”
Even a GRAMMY® winner could be wowed by the considerable star power on Escape Plan’s set. “I’m a big fan of both Sly and Arnold, so I had a little bit of a groupie moment,” admits Jackson. “But I recovered. Sly has always been able to create really memorable moments in films and it was great to witness that in person he improvises little things all the time that personalize the scene and make it feel real.”
The actors playing supporting roles in Escape Plan are just as illustrious as the stars, with Vincent D’Onofrio stepping in as Lester Clark. As played by D’Onofrio, Clark is an affable germophobe responsible for the company’s bottom line. “Lester Clark is somebody you respect and you believe Breslin would trust,” says Chapman. “Vincent is such a great actor. He brought lots of different colors to the character and found some unexpected humor in it, as well.”
As Kevin King-Templeton points out, it is an extraordinarily deep cast for an action film, including Sam Neill as Dr. Kyrie, the prison’s conscience-ridden doctor, Vinnie Jones as Drake, the most vicious of Hobbes’ jackbooted henchmen, and Faran Tahir, a detainee with more surprises up his sleeve. “We have some of America’s finest actors in this cast,” King-Templeton says. “Having them on board sets this movie apart. They bring a level of talent that would be astonishing in any movie.”