July 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

‘Escape Room 2’ explained: Secrets of 4 killer maze designs

From left, Brianna (Indya Moore), Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel), Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) in a scene from “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions.”

(David Bloomer)

“I remember distinctly sitting in the room when Adam looked across the table at me and was like, ‘What about a beach?’” said Honley. “He starts painting this picture for me and once we knew [we’d include it], the threat just seemed obvious.”

“Quicksand was always something that was scary to me as a kid,” said Robitel. “So initially we thought, ‘What about an ancient temple?’ We did some really cool concept art but it just felt like a ‘Maze Runner’ movie, it didn’t feel like ‘Escape Room.’ And then one of my Sony executives said, ‘What if it was a beautiful Cape Cod beach?’”

The beach set was the largest of them all and had to be built from the ground up which made it the longest and most challenging sequence.

“They come out and it looks like they’re outside but the studio was like, ‘That’s a cool moment but we can’t afford to keep the CG set extension going the whole scene,’” said Robitel. “So I said, ‘OK, what if Indya Moore’s character takes a photo and then suddenly the whole beach turns into this big amazing backdrop that you can feel is a wall?’”

They custom ordered a translight — “this massive piece of fabric with a photo that we took [of a beach] and brought in from the UK,” said Robitel. “It was probably like three miles of fabric, like this giant curtain and again we were like, ‘Will this work?’”

“There was only one company in the Northern Hemisphere that could print such a large canvas for us,” said Thomas. They camera-tested it to ensure the patina of the cloth would give off “that lovely 1950s postcard feel.”

Pulling it off was “inordinately difficult,” Robitel says, because of the challenge of working with sand and the mechanisms required to sink the actors and scenery. “It was 20,000 tons of sand that they brought in from a beach in Cape Town and everything that you see is practical,” said Robitel. “It took a minute to sink somebody and it was kicking up all of these bubbles, it looked like weird porridge. Or somebody wouldn’t sink but then they would just drop.”

“We had special effects teams [fluidizing] the sand so that it would turn liquid,” he added. “Every time an actor would sink, they would be kicking up all this sand into everybody’s eyes and people’s corneas were scratched. The pier itself and everything you see sinking in the movie was done practically, so it was almost like a Universal backstage set the way it was very functional. You could press buttons and the Crab Shack would roll and teeter and start to sink. It was really cool but very, very challenging.”