Wow! Who saw this coming?!
Cinema chain Odeon & UCI Group, the largest cinema chain in the UK, has announced that it will not be showing Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland. This announcement is a reaction to Disney’s plan to cut the time between the cinema and DVD release to only 12 weeks, down from the standard 17. At writing, there are no plans by other cinema chains to follow suit.
This is a massive call by Odeon and they are sure to lose a lot of cinema takings down to this move. Maybe it is just a threat to try and get Disney to retract their plans for fear of harming the $150 million remake, but trying to call The Mouse’s bluff is a risky game. While Disney claims the plan to reduce the showing time is not the shape of things to come, Odeon obviously sees this as a threat to the future of the medium. Ironically, the premiere of the movie is still to go ahead in Odeon Leicester Square!
While the stakes are obviously high it will be exciting to see the takings for the movie (obviously with 3D premium to top it up) as somehow there is still demand for Tim Burton remakes after the offensively terrible Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also starring Johnny Depp. Maybe the chain is hoping for higher returns for films such as Legion (due out the same day as Alice in Wonderland), Green Zone, Shutter Island et al to accommodate for the loss.
Disney has chosen this shorter window allegedly to boost DVD sales. The question remains on how well a 3D movie will look on the small screen and whether the 2D will be lacking from the 3D version. Secondly it reeks of desperation – surely a film that is good enough on it’s own merits will get people going to the cinema and then buy it on DVD when it is released.
So what do you think of Odeon’s decision? Is Odeon/UCI cutting off its nose to spite its face? Is it fighting a losing battle with Disney? Does it have a right to expect a return on its investment in 3D screens? Or, do you think Disney is the distributor and should call how long a cinema is allowed to show its movie?