Odeon won't show Alice in Wonderland in row with Disney
The magic of Tim Burton’s up and coming 3D fantasy, Alice In Wonderland, will be missing from more than eight hundred Odeon cinema screens across the UK, after the chain withdrew the film in a dispute with the distributor, Disney.
Cinema chains can usually expect a free run at a film for seventeen weeks before distributors release it on DVD, but with more of its earnings coming from the home entertainment market these days, Disney was keen to bring this forward to just twelve weeks after the theatrical release.
Several cinema chains are known to have expressed their dissatisfaction with Disney’s decision, but Britain’s second and third biggest, Cineworld and Vue, are now understood to have reached deals to participate in the release.
A film will rarely stay on the big screen as long as seventeen weeks, but knowing that the DVD release is only twelve weeks away might persuade some viewers to wait to see it at home, rather than pay to see it on the big screen. Odeon says that a shorter theatrical release window undermines the large sums of money invested over the past twelve months to introduce new 3D projection equipment into hundreds of its screens.
Disney has insisted that having a smaller theatrical window would be done only on a case-by-case basis, but Odeon has expressed its concern that it could be the thin end of the wedge, setting a new benchmark, with a twelve week window becoming standard.
Despite the disagreement, Odeon – which is Britain’s biggest cinema chain – has decided to honour its commitment to host the film’s Royal Premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square, later this week, out of respect for the charity that will benefit, the Royal guests and the cast and crew of the film.
Such a row is not unprecedented. Last year, Disney changed its mind about reducing the theatrical window of the animation, Up, after exhibitors threatened not to screen another of its releases, A Christmas Carol, a few months later. And Odeon and Vue both pulled Night at the Museum from their screens, in 2007, when Fox shortened its theatrical window to thirteen weeks.