Thursday, 11 February 2010

Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' a key battleground as Disney fights pirates?

Disney have apparently told the UK’s biggest film exhibitors that they are shortening the time between the theatrical and home entertainment releases of the new 3D Tim Burton film ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Apparently the standard length of theatrical exclusivity is 17 weeks, which Disney have plans to cut to 12. Needless to say, the UK’s biggest cinema chains have not been impressed and are holding their ground, threatening to boycott the film entirely unless Disney reverse their stance. The Odeon and Vue chains have apparently taken the step of removing all trailers and promotional materials from their cinemas, as well as putting a hold on the buying of advance tickets. Cineworld is still advertising the film, but is also understood to be rebuking Disney’s deal.

What is the big deal? Well, distributors, understandably, don’t want to see the gap narrow between the theatrical run of a movie and its home video release, as it increases the likelihood that many may wait and catch the film on DVD rather than go to the cinema. With two adult tickets (or maybe just one for a 3D film) usually being equal to the price of a new DVD, which can be endlessly re-watched with as many people as you like, it isn’t hard to see why waiting for the DVD would become increasingly appealing if the gap were to narrow. Disney, however, have taken the view that most films have stopped showing in cinemas after 12 weeks anyway, and that denying people who wish to own the film a legitimate way to do so for a couple of months may play into the hands of pirates. A fair point, I think.

Of course, this dispute will likely be resolved one way or the other in time for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to open across the country. I’m sure all this grandstanding ultimately won’t prevent the Odeon from showing Johnny Depp in 3D, with all the potential revenue that brings, whilst Disney won't want to forfeit a projected £40 million UK box office. But regardless of which side wins this battle, it seems clear that it will not signify the end of the war. If Disney sees this as a potential way to schedule all releases in the future then that could very well spell big problems for the exhibition industry, especially once the 3D capable televisions have taken that particular cinema-exclusive novelty into the home later this year.

Anyway, if the Odeon aren't showing the trailer at the moment, allow me to exhibit it here:

For more information on this story read the original Reuters news story or the article on the Guardian website.

1 comment:

  1. Odeon were shooting themselves in the foot by proposing to boycott Alice.

    I remember during the nineties reading an interview with Mel Brookes who said that he thought that six months between a films' theatrical release and its video release was too short.