BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As zombies wandered the River Center Thursday night for The Walking Dead Escape live experience, scared fans gleefully ran for their lives, jumping through cages and makeshift quarantines. At one point they had to run through a bus, but one Baton Rouge company says it feels like it was just hit by one.
"It was a complete about-face and really shocking," said Diana Branton, Creative Director for Composite Effects (CFX).
Branton said the company that runs this event, Skybound EXP, approached them for makeup work and 245 custom silicone masks and body parts for the participants. The CFX crew was happy to oblige.
"This is a labor of love by our 30 employed artists that worked overtime really just to push this out in the last month and a half," Branton said.
These are no department store masks. Each one costs about $800. But at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday Branton says Skybound EXP backed out, asking to rent the masks for $3500 instead. The real scare is that there was never a written contract.
"We solidified this partnership at the table in Los Angeles at Skybound with all of the parameters, and everything was done on a gentleman's handshake, because there was no time as everything was evolving to create (a contract), because so many things were being added and changed," Branton said.
Skybound EXP President David Isaacs said what happened is a fact of business and that his company has successfully worked with hundreds of vendors around the world.
"The reality is we honor all of our agreements, and saying anybody didn't have time to put together agreements for large sums of money over months and months of production just doesn't make any sense to me," Isaacs said.
"I don't want to get into the specifics of what went on with them, but I think the reality for us is we are committed to creating a great experience for our fans, and one way or another that's how we are going to do it. I think the most important thing is when you see them coming through is did they really get what they expected...the ultimate Walking Dead experience with a great Hollywood-style makeover, and the answer is yes," he said.
Branton hopes a deal can still be reached for the remainder of The Walking Dead Escape tour. If not, the $200,000 worth of masks will haunt her instead of their intended victims.
"I'm hoping I get a phone call and people have come to their senses, because honestly it feels like being on Candid Camera just because we've put in the amount of blood, sweat and tears," she said.
The Walking Dead Escape tour launched in Baton Rouge and continues in the following cities:
Houston, TX – April 26th at Reliant Stadium
Miami, FL – May 3rd at Sun Life Stadium
Tampa, FL – May 10th at Sundome Arena
Jacksonville, FL – May 17th at EverBank Field
New Orleans, LA – May 24th at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Atlanta, GA – May 31st at Philips Arena
San Diego, CA – July 25th and 26th at Petco Park surrounding Comic Con 2014