The UK’s largest exhibitor, Odeon, this week threatened to boycott Disney’s 3D event feature Alice in Wonderland, on the basis of plans to release the film early on DVD.
Alice, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp is set to open around the globe 5 March. In spite of the threatened boycott, the world premiere of Alice will still take place at the Odeon Leicester Square venue in London this Thursday 25 February.
At this stage Disney plans to release Alice on DVD three months after its March 5 theatrical debut. Exhibitors however want a four-month window.
Odeon, which operates 838 screens in the U.K. and Ireland, said the shortened window is unacceptable. "The negative impact on cinema attendance that such a reduction in the window will have will threaten the continued existence of many cinemas, especially the smaller and medium-sized cinemas," Odeon said in a statement.
"Odeon/UCI has invested considerable sums of money, especially in the U.K., over the past 12 months to install digital projection systems in its cinemas. The proposed reduction in the window on a high-profile 3D title like Alice in Wonderland undermines the investment made," Odeon said.
Odeon will however show Alice in its theatre chain in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria, where Disney will observe the usual four-month window.
Although its boycott could financially wound the UK theater chain, it still has a "very full lineup" of other films to offer audiences over the next few weeks. These include DreamWorks Animation and Paramount’s How to Train Your Dragon, which opens 26 March, and Warner Bros.’ 3D Clash of the Titans, opening 2 April. "These will now take priority in our cinemas," the UK exhibitor said.