Odeon refuses to screen Alice in Wonderland after Disney row
It may be fanatical about film, but Odeon cinemas is drawing the line at showing Tim Burton's 3D adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland in the UK because of a row with the Disney film studio.
Disney has insisted that the period between Alice in Wonderland – starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter – appearing at cinemas and its release on DVD should be shortened to three months instead of the usual 17 weeks, a move strongly opposed by Odeon.
The chain fears Disney's proposals would inevitably lead to a standard 12-week window for most films in the UK, cutting down the time during which cinemas can make money.
"Odeon/UCI has invested considerable sums of money, especially in the UK, over the past 12 months to install digital projection systems in its cinemas to enable customers to enjoy 3D," Odeon and UCI cinema group said in a statement. "The popularity of 3D titles meant that last year these films played in Odeon/UCI cinemas for an average of 18 weeks from initial release."
Odeon's decision will not affect the film's Royal premiere on Thursday at the Odeon Leicester Square in London, to be attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Nor will it affect its plans to show the film in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria – territories where Disney intends to observe the normal DVD release window. The movie will be released on 5 March in both 2D and 3D.
Cineworld cinemas will show the movie after reaching an independent agreement with the Disney studio. The Vue chain is also understood to have reached an agreement with Disney.
Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney, has been putting pressure on cinema chains to shorten the screening period for films so that movies can get on to DVDs sooner. DVD sales are where the studios make their money and Disney also believes that getting films on to DVDs more quickly would help to beat piracy.
Bob Chapek, president of distribution for the Walt Disney Studios said: "We feel that it's important for us to maintain a healthy business on the exhibition side and a healthy business on the home video side. We think this is in the best interest of theatre owners, because a healthy movie business is good for them and allows us to invest in high-quality, innovative content."
Disney tried to shorten the window for Up, the Pixar animation, last year, but backed down when cinemas said that they would drop Up and A Christmas Carol.
The Odeon and UCI Cinema group has more than 100 cinemas in the UK. Cineworld and Vue are the second and third biggest. Together they represent just under two-thirds of all cinema screens in the UK. Burton's film – a composite of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, in which a 19-year-old Alice ends up returning to Wonderland, a place she first visited 10 years before – also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Stephen Fry and Matt Lucas. Burton, who lives in London, shot Alice in Wonderland largely in Devon and Cornwall.
Source: Guardian Online