By David Poland email@example.com
More Of Disney's Alice Mess
Disney is busy selling the notion that it won some victory by getting a deal done with Odeon in the UK to show Alice In Wonderland with a 14 week theatrical window. But it’s not quite that simple. They bought the right to experiment with a shorter window 3 times in the next 2 years, while also giving Odeon improved terms on the split of the box office gross in this shortened window.
My problem with this is that it is neither fish nor foul. Internal estimates of post-theatrical revenues are lovely and all, but what happens to Alice in June really can’t prove anything. No single movie can in a situation like this. And a window for one movie shrinking one month isn’t much of a test of anything either. There simply is no way to measure and to be confident of what is real.
The line someone dropped – and should pick up – that piracy is an issue between theatrical and DVD is just a load of crap. Piracy starts in earnest on Day One of the release of a movie. There are discs on the streets and streams on the web before the first weekend is over.
When you can show me a single person who chooses not to get a film illegally in the first 3 months of release, but then has a deep and abiding need to purchase or download an illegal copy between 12 weeks and 16 weeks, offer them up. And I will still want to quiz them about what drugs they are on.
There is only one market that waits 8 weeks before getting serious about seeing a title and then often finds itself out of luck because the theatrical run has dried up… and it happens to be the very same group that is least likely to download or buy a pirated copy of a film… and is also the least affected by “see it now” pressures… people over 50… mostly women over 50.
When a company acts the way Disney is behaving, there are only three options that I can think of: 1. They are boldly seeking out a new future, 2. They are finding ways to cover their tracks for losses they are projecting, and 3. They are reckless fools who like changing things to see what happens. Your call.
And what I expect out of Alice and the two other experiments? (Disney should pay Odeon even more for creating a structure for the future of their experimentation.) Numbers that are read completely differently by whoever believes in whichever side of the argument.
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory grossed less than 1% of its theatrical gross after Weekend 12. And that was a film with long legs in the current era. So that is a non-starter.
Having more weeks in theaters is not really the issue for exhibitors or the industry. The issue is choosing to shorten the window and everything that has followed. And that is, in my long and strongly-held opinion, suicide for this industry, taking the very real and compelling opportunity of expanding delivery systems for post-theatrical and turning into harder-to-exploit mush.
But that’s just me. (And the lesson that the industry keeps learning every time it decides that it needs dramatic changes in windows.)
And PRESS RELEASE… AMC gets manipulated for a price, as was inevitable, by Disney. Who got the better of the deal, only time will tell.
AMC Entertainment to Show “Alice In Wonderland”
Tickets on Sale Now
Kansas City, Mo. (Feb. 25, 2010) – AMC Entertainment Inc. (AMC), a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, today placed for sale across its entire circuit advanced tickets to “ALICE IN WONDERLAND,” Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming motion picture.
“ALICE looks terrific, and it promises to be the next 3D blockbuster. It is sure to please our guests – many of whom have called and emailed – and help us maintain box office momentum in 2010,” said Gerry Lopez, CEO and president of AMC. “As business models evolve for exhibitors as well as distributors such as Disney, it makes sense to focus on the many opportunities we have to improve our economics, so we can continue to invest in technology our guests want and ultimately, the guest experience in our theatres.”