UK Movie Theaters Also Threatening An Alice In Wonderland Ban
Even more theater chains are starting to step up and take a stand against Disney’s attempt to inflate DVD sales by shortchanging theater owners on Alice in Wonderland. It started a few weeks ago when we first heard about Disney’s plan to shorten the length of time their movies would be in theaters in order to get the DVDs out quicker and, theoretically sell more copies to DVD hungry kids. That’s great for Disney, but not so great for theater owners who make the vast majority of their money from the last few weeks of a film’s theatrical run. They’d lose money in a big way.
Disney’s negotiations with theater owners have been ongoing, but last week Dutch cinema owners threatened to ban Alice in Wonderland from their theaters altogether if Disney didn’t put things back the way they were. Now Variety says UK theater owners are on the verge of following suit.
Word is that the United Kingdom’s largest exhibitor, Odeon, now says that if Disney carries through with its plan to shorten theatrical release window they too will refuse to show Alice in Wonderland on their screens. Disney claims negotiations with Odeon are still ongoing, but Odeon is, publicly at least, taking a hard line stance.
Disney’s plan is, quite simply, to reduce the length of time their movies will play in UK theaters from four months to three. Theater owners however, make almost no money off ticket sales in the first few weeks of a movie’s release, when crowds are the biggest. Instead, those opening weekend ticket sales go almost entirely to Disney and other distributors. They make their money in subsequent weeks when the crowds are smaller and it takes more showings for longer periods of time to make a profit. Cutting out an entire month would, understandably, drastically affect their bottom line while Disney gets fat off DVD cash.
While international exhibitors seem ready to do battle, American theater owners have remained largely quiet, still in negotiations with Disney. And while Odeon is the UK’s largest theater chain, the nation’s second and third largest chains may still show the film. Odeon owns 838 theaters in the country while second place Cineworld and third place Vue collectively own 1366 screens and show no sign of supporting Odeon’s decision.
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