Those who currently reside in the UK may want to wait a while before pre-ordering your tickets for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
According to The Guardian UK cinema chains Odeon, Vue and Cineworld (who combined represent 95% of UK 3D screens) may boycott the film because of a dispute with Disney over the release window. DVD sales are falling, and have been for a number of years. Studios are trying to find ways to boost sales, and Disney has decided to reduce the DVD release for Alice in Wonderland from 17 weeks to 12. They say that they make 97% of their total box office in the first 8 weeks, so making consumers wait another two months before they can buy the DVD legitimately just presents the pirates with an “exclusive window.”
The cinema chains on the other hand say that bringing forward the DVD release will reduce the audience appetite to see films on the big screen, which could lead to cinema closures. The Guardian says that Disney’s distribution chiefs, Bob Chapek and Chuck Viane, have flown to the UK to talk to British exhibitors over the next couple of days in an attempt to secure a release. Alice in Wonderland is projected to make £40 million ($62 million) in the UK, so it would be in Disney’s interests to make sure audiences can see it on March 3rd.
The funny thing is that if the situation cannot be resolved then UK moviegoers who wanted to see Alice in Wonderland may turn to piracy, so Disney’s efforts to reduce it will only backfire. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.