Screenplay idea

Escape From The Mall
pitched by AA, February 2009

starring Kate Hudson as Liss

The time is the not-too-distant future
The place is middle America, the Heartland, in a massive shopping mall
The heroine is beautiful and buff, å la Linda Hamilton in Terminator. A trained field agent. She likes corn dogs and beer. She has a pet cockatiel named Earl. Won’t go anywhere without mascara and lipgloss. Obsessed with Emily Dickinson. Loves big band music. Hates to shop.

Hard times have hit the US. Crime is rampant, and prisons are filled beyond capacity. Businesses are closing up shop, and owners are leaving everything behind when they lose hope of paying their back rent. Homelessness is on the rise in the suburbs and exurbs as entire families are forced out of their McMansions. Many people choose to take shelter in the largest shopping mall in the country, now closed.

The mall becomes so overrun with squatters that the police force is no longer able to respond to crime reports and calls for help. People have armed themselves. Attempts by the police to empty the mall are fruitless. Finally, they close it off from the rest of the world and order a mandatory evacuation of all neighborhoods within a 3-mile radius.

Thousands of people have filled the stores, the storerooms, the subterranean parking garage. They eat the fresh food first, then scavenge for packaged foods. They can live a long time on drugstore Whitman’s Samplers and multiplex popcorn and nachos. At some point, however, they will be forced to survive on rats and chia pets.

Fights break out over who can wear the Nordstrom shoes, and who must wear Payless; what kind of music they will listen to; who will sleep on the home furnishings and who will sleep on the floor. The bookstores and higher-end department stores are somewhat “safe,” while the parking garage is worse than lawless.

The mall is the most dangerous place in the country, a large blank spot on the map, the best-kept secret in the world. That is, until the helicopter carrying the mother-in-law of a visiting dignitary crashes on the roof of Barnes & Noble.

The pilot is killed in the crash. The roof dwellers immediately disassemble the helicopter for parts and scrap. They strip the mother-in-law of her Valentino, jewels and furs, and she flees, down into the mall.

Hoping to avert worldwide headlines, a secret rescue attempt is immediately planned in the top echelons of US intelligence. A rogue field agent, Liss, is tapped for the job. She refuses at first, but she really has no choice.

She has 72 hours. Time-release capsules of contagion are injected in her neck. She is dropped in. If she is not out in time, she will be dead from the bioweapon, which would then effectively infect and kill much of the mall’s population. She has to make it back out alive. But the only thing that will guarantee her rescue is if she is able to bring the mother-in-law with her.

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