If you’re planning to see Alice in Wonderland but plan to wait a few weeks to skip the crowds, make sure you don’t wait too long. Disney’s getting greedy and they’ve started pushing for theater owners to shorten the length of time they play movies, in order to allow them to rush their movies onto Blu-Ray and DVD so they can get their hands on your wallet at home. In particular, THR says they’re asking both U.S. and UK theater owners to tighten the release window on Alice in Wonderland from the usual 16 weeks to a trim 13.

One problem. Movie theaters make most of their money off the last few weeks of any movie’s release. Historically, theaters just don’t make much when the crowds are big and the screenings are sold out. The money you pay for your ticket opening weekend all goes straight to pay the movie’s distributor and the theater itself gets almost none of it. Those last few weeks are when they really start pocketing ticket revenue, and by shortening Alice’s release window Disney will cut into theater owners’ profits, while they believe they’ll increase theirs by getting the home video version out there quicker, where there’s no pesky theater middle man to get between them and your paycheck.

This should be particularly successful with Disney movies since, their audience tends to have kids, and parents love buying new Disney DVDs to keep their kids busy, thus avoiding any actual parenting. Worked for me. I learned everything I need to know about sex from The Little Mermaid. Imagine my surprise when the first girl I saw naked didn’t have any seashells.

But what about theater owners? Exhibitors are making it clear to Disney that they’ll need some sort of compensation from Disney, to make up for what they’re missing. It sounds like there’s room for negotiation, and that may happen. Or, there’s always another hike in ticket prices. We’re already paying more for 3D, why not more for Disney movies too? It’s only a matter of time.

Personally I think there’s a better solution here. Why not leave it in theaters a full 16 weeks, but for the last three weeks of the film’s theatrical run, allow movie theaters to sell advance copies of the DVD right there in the lobby? Any kids who see Alice in Wonderland are going want their own copy to watch at home, and if it’s sitting right there by the exit, parents are sure to buy it to shut them up.

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