AMC May Boycott Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland


Looks like the inhabitants of Wonderland aren’t the only ones revolting against an evil tyrant. Theatre owners across the world are reportedly none too happy about Disney’s recently announced plans to push the DVD release date of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland up to within 12 weeks of the theatrical run, and they’re doing something about it. Disney hopes to increase sales of the DVD by having it out in time for the summer, a full 5 weeks earlier than the usual theatrical-to-DVD release window. In response, several cinema chains have threatened to boycott the film, voicing concerns about a potential loss of big screen revenue.

In the U.K., both Vue Entertainment and Odeon Cinemas have taken up arms, along with four of the major exhibitors in The Netherlands who have already decided not to carry the film. Now AMC in the U.S. is also staring down Disney; with less than two weeks before the movie’s scheduled release, they still have not agreed to screen it. If AMC were to boycott the movie it would be a huge blow, considering that they account for over 4500 screens worldwide. I don’t know if extra DVD sales could make up for a loss like that. It is expected that an agreement will be reached in the coming days, but it is unclear who will blink first. Who do you side with on this one, and does a shortened DVD release window make you less likely to see a movie in theatres?

  • Paul Andrews

    Quite a big deal in the UK; Odeon is the largest over here, the top five being:
    Odeon – 107 sites/834 screens
    Cineworld – 74 sites/758 screens
    Vue – 63 sites/608 screens
    National Amusements – 21 sites/274 screens
    Ward Anderson – 24 sites/206 screens

  • Maybe I’m a little naive here but I still feel that 12 weeks before a DVD release is still amble time to max out profits on the film. What was the last film that ran that long minus Avatar?
    I think that the people that are going to see it in the theater still will no matter the 5 week difference.

  • The premiere of Alice in Wonderland in the UK is to take place at Odeon Leicester Square this Thursday, ironically enough. Presuming it’s still going ahead, that is.

    I don’t think Vue have quite made up their minds about it yet. Hope they show it – I won’t have anywhere to see it otherwise.

  • MJS

    As a consumer I suppose I would benefit from a quicker DVD release date, but I have a lot of sympathy for the theater chains. The studios treat theaters like crap and I’m kind of glad that they’re actually doing something about it for once.

    With home theaters getting more and more advanced, getting new movies sooner is pretty much the only thing that theaters have going for them and I don’t think they want that window constantly shrinking. It might just be five weeks now, but next time it will be six weeks, next one it’s seven, and so on until the theaters are kind of screwed.

  • Agree with MJS! Adding my two cents worth…

    I can see why theaters would be upset about this, as it probably feels like the studios are doing very little to help promote the advantages of theaters. On the other hand, theaters generally lack business imagination and execution. (Kind of a match made in heaven, movie theaters and studios, no?) Maybe Disney sees that they won’t need the theaters in the too distant future and this is a small way to test that theory? If the theaters cave and show the film, then I would expect Disney and the other major studios to push harder in the future on this issue and other areas that put the theaters at a further disadvantage.

    I can see a day (7-10 years) where the theaters that remain are competing against the ability for the customer to rent the movie in HD from the comfort of their home at the same time it’s released to theaters. You’ll pay a premium for that rental, but I’m not sure it will be any worse than a group of four buying tickets at the theater at that time. If this comes true, then the theaters will have to provide a much more compelling experience than they do now. Either way, I’m not sure the studios will care. They want as much control over the distribution channels as possible – period. (E.g. the terrible deals struck between Warner & Netflix/Redbox)

  • Niklas

    I dont think anyone who planned on watching this movie wont because the DVD comes out earlier. 99% of movie goers don’t have a clue on when a DVD is coming out until they see it at Best Buy anyway (myself included).

  • Falsk

    I’m a little confused because I just saw an add for “Princess and the Frog” coming out March 16 on DVD. And didn’t that come out mid-December? Doesn’t that put it at, like, a 12 week release schedule?

    Anyway, I agree with Niklas. The public doesn’t make note of when DVDs are coming out. They see an add on TV or go to Best Buy and that’s that. I think theaters might be jumping to conclusions…

  • Good point. Technically it got a limited release on November 25th, but that’s still not even a 4 month difference.

  • Can this movie suck that bad?

  • Ben

    Honestly – consumers don’t care. If people are willing to wait 12 weeks for the DVD/Blu-ray, they’re generally willing to wait the ‘normal’ 17. People don’t tend to know when the DVD/Blu-ray release date is anyway, so it has zero effect on their decision to go to the cinema or not.

  • Wondering out loud: could the shortened DVD release dates possibly have an effect on the quality/quantity of DVD(+Bluray) extras?

  • Falsk

    @DavidM — That’s what I’d be worried about, more than a drop in ticket sales. Realistically, they’ve probably been working on that stuff for months (while it was in theaters). But still, you’d think the longer they wait to bring out a DVD, the longer they’re working on it, putting stuff on it. But I have no idea if that’s actually true…

  • sacasam-master

    The problem is that theaters get a greater dollar % of ticket sales after the movie has been out a certain amount of time. Sending this to DVD too soon will probably cut into their profits significantly.

  • MJS

    Re: those who say most people don’t know this release will be sooner than usual.

    That’s probably true, but I think what the theaters are really worried about is this sort of thing becoming standard operating procedure. If people catch on to the fact that they’ll be getting this on DVD this quickly they’ll have even less incentive to catch it in theaters.

    I think the already short release window has hurt theaters in the long run even if they maybe aren’t going to be running the movie that long.

  • This is much more complicated than Disney simply pushing for the 12 week window. It has far more to do with the film not being given a 4 week exclusive run on 3D screens, as used to be the norm. With Avatar still controlling a decent set of 3D screens, and How to Train Your Dragon coming out just 2 weeks later, Disney is facing a real crunch in trying to make Alice a profitable film, or get as much of the now desired 3D revenue that the film should be able to command.

    So in an effort to get the 3D screens they want they are threatening to move up the DVD release, and theatre chains are countering.

    And if that isn’t enough, Disney is threatening to pull the film entirely and do a straight to DVD release.


    Also, don’t be surprised if this same story repeats itself throughout the year, as their are to many 3D films coming out and not enough 3D screens to cover them all. Alice is just the first of many studios and theatre chains butting heads on the number of 3D screens available for new films.

  • For me the film looks like shit any way, so I can answer by saying I would rather watch it in the cinema if it turns to be crap then it was cheaper, rather than fork out more for the DVD, and then still own something I am never going to watch.

    This whole 3D thing has died for me already, I’m sick of it and things have not even started.

  • Jason_Miami

    Sounds like theaters crying over spilled milk to me. As a consumer it’s better for me that the Blu-ray/DVD comes out quickly afterward. I would love to be able to buy a movie I love immediately after I see it in theaters.

    In my experience, theaters keep hiking up prices while offering a crappier movie-going experience. I remember a time when theaters were actually cleaned in between showtimes and when they had attendants in the theater to kick out troublemakers. Now you’re lucky if someone with a flashlight shows up to walk around (not like that does anything anyway.) So I pay $10 USD to sit in an unclean theater and watch a blown up version of a movie with other people who almost always ruin it for me. The exception to this is comedies, which are sometimes better, but you can have people laughing so hard you miss further jokes. When I go with my girlfriend that runs me $20 USD and for that price I could pretty much OWN the Blu-ray. Most of the time I elect to wait for a Blu-ray/DVD rental anyway.

    These are just my personal experiences. I think the theaters should worry more about lowering the price and/or improving the consumer experience in order to compete instead of childish boycotts. They make a ridiculous money every week regardless and the majority of money comes in the few weeks. Also, 12 weeks is plenty of time even if they get a better % long after release.

  • Jason_Miami

    I wish you could edit posts :P

    Last paragraph:
    They make a lot of money every week regardless and the majority of money comes in the first few weeks anyway. Also, 12 weeks is plenty of time, even if they get a better % after release.

  • Paul Andrews

    I agree with Chris, TB’s last good film was Edward Scissorhands in 1990. Since then we’ve had Batman Returns, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks !, Sleepy Hollow, The World of Stainboy (eh ?), Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride. Leaving the boycot issue aside it’s likely this will be a turkey anyway.

  • They make a ridiculous money every week regardless and the majority of money comes in the few weeks.

    If only this were true.


    UK cinema chain Odeon change their minds about not showing Alice. Some interesting quotes in this article.

  • Everone in my house is waiting for this movie to come out. The fab clothes are as creative as the movie itself!

  • “Boycott” is the wrong word. “Embargo” would be better. Boycotts are generally staged by smaller groups trying to make a political statement through organized action and self-deprivation. The Montgomery Bus Boycott would be an example, in which elderly African-American domestics walked miles to work rather than patronize a racist transportation system. Or more recently, gay groups’ boycotting of Cinemark theaters, a chain that funded the anti-gay Proposition 8. But a big greedy corporation punishing theatergoers because they’re mad they can’t suck even more money out of their consumers during a recession does not count as boycott. It is greed and bad behavior, which has the added benefit of creating publicity for both the film and the theater.

  • Hilarious!! Go ahead, people will see it if they want too they will find a way, find the theater thats not acting like a huge baby, or wait for the Video… Not to mention its hard to feel bad for the big theaters having us pay $10.00 (+) per person, and even crazier prices at the concession stands. LOL They’re just going to runin this for themselves. (in a time where its a buyers market non the less.) Good luck to you! you will need it.

  • chuck

    The local cinema operator Wilcox theatres didn’t even open with Alice in Wonderland at all on the open weekend. I learned that owner could be morman but I can tell you he didn’t open with Hannah Montana until a week later and it didn’t open the princess and the frog at all. I figure this local operator is losing money.