By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 10 Feb 2010
The day after CEO Bob Iger hinted changes were instore for the traditional theatrical window, The Walt Disney Co. reportedly will cut three weeks from next month's much-anticipated Alice in Wonderland live-action 3D movie, starring Johnny Depp.
Following a move from theater operators in the United Kingdom, Disney has asked theater operators in the United States to shorten to 13 weeks (from 16 weeks) the March 5 box office run for Alice, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
With packaged-media sellthrough under siege from the recession, market saturation and $1 DVD kiosk rentals, studios are pushing for shorter theatrical windows in exchange for an exclusive retail window.
Warner Home Video was the first studio to formally stake out a retail window when it inked a revised distribution deal with Netflix that delayed shipments of new releases by 28 days to the online DVD rental pioneer.
Disney's move, which Bob Chapek, president of distribution for Disney Studios, foreshadowed late last year when he told The Los Angeles Times the typical theatrical release generates the bulk of its revenue in the first three weeks of release, represents the first official box office reduction by a major studio.
Iger, in a call with investors Feb. 9, said the success last year of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which generated the bulk of its revenue via an exclusive retail window, underscored the need to reconfigure release windows, including a separate sellthrough window.
He said the studio would continue to tread cautiously within home entertainment, which he said included approaching theatrical operators about the importance of packaged-media sales.
“We feel that it is really important for us to maintain a very healthy business on the home video side, which we think is actually in the best interest of theater owners,” Iger said. “Mindful of what is going on the home video side, we feel that it is time on a case-by-case basis to really take a look at how we are windowing home video product into the marketplace.”