Alice in Wonderland
By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 25 Feb 2010
In another win for packaged media and The Walt Disney Co., Great Britain’s Odeon Cinema Group Feb. 25 said it has agreed to shorten the theatrical window for the March 5 2D/3D release of Alice in Wonderland to 12 weeks from the typical 17-week run.
Odeon also reported it will show Alice in Wonderland in its cinemas in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria. The largest theatrical chain in the United Kingdom, with 834 screens, earlier this week threatened to boycott the fantasy adventure film staring Johnny Depp after Disney asked European theater operators to scale back the release window so it could expedite the title’s retail availability on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
The European campaign is seen by many as a harbinger for an eventual shortening of the U.S. theatrical window.
With 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.
Disney, along with Warner Bros., has been at the forefront of establishing a retail window, arguing that most movies generate the bulk of their revenue in the first three weeks of release.
Warner Home Video this year created new distribution agreements with Netflix and Redbox whereby the by-mail and kiosk vendors agreed to delay shipments of new Warner titles for 28 days in exchange for greater copy depth and pricing.
“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,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors earlier this month.
Odeon claimed that a curtailed release window would threaten the existence of its smaller and medium-size cinemas, in addition to undermining its investment in retrofitting locations with 3D-compatible projectors and screens.
“As a result of this agreement, Odeon is pleased to confirm that it will be able to continue with its plans for significant investment in new cinemas, in digital technology in 3D capability and the other exciting developments designed for the increased enjoyment of all its customers,” the company said.