Disney Shortening the Theatrical Run of Alice in Wonderland

If you can’t see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in theaters within 90 days, don’t bother. Disney CEO Bob Iger hasn’t stated this publicly, but he has been telling Wall Street for months that he was going to tinker with traditional movie release windows for Disney productions.

And today The Hollywood Reporter has learned that U.S. exhibitors have been approached about a shorter release window for what is surely to be a big movie for the Mickey Mouse company

As we move closer to be able to access movies on-demand with the click of a mouse, I can’t say that I’m surprised. Typically, a major motion picture will play in first-run theaters for up to four months (roughly 16 weeks). Disney is in talks to have the theatrical run of Alice be just 13 weeks. The thought is that with a shorter run, the studio can accelerate the film’s release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc and have it come out during the Summer blockbuster season. It could even play the foil to a particular theatrical release. DreamWorks did something similar by having the DVD release of Shrek 2 be the same day Disney released The Incredibles in theaters. If this is the case, I wouldn’t put it pass Disney to release Alice on DVD and Blu-ray the week that Paramount Pictures releases The Last Airbender.

With an expedited home release date, it will also accelerate the film’s availability on VOD.

The THR article implies that such a move on Disney’s part may alter the the boxoffice split between distributors and exhibtors. The theaters want assurances that help their bottom line. That is to say that studios making upwards of 55% of the total box office is sure to change.

Such a decision could be a financial windfall for Disney. It also could mean that the truncated theatrical runs will make the theater reconsider showing more independent features. Because what this article implies is the shorter runs will be for bigger, tentpole pictures. It could open the door for a Hurt Locker or a Let the Right One In to have greater longevity in a crowded movieplex, where before it would only be present for less than a month.

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