You've probably heard by now: AMC Theatres is threatening to boycott Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Earlier in the week, some European theater chains made similar threats. Why? Because Disney is planning to shorten the theatrical-to-DVD release window from 17 weeks to 12 weeks, which would mean that the movie will hit DVD around June 1st. Why does AMC care, given that none of its theaters are likely to actually keep the movie for 12 weeks? Well, presumably if people know that a movie is going to be available for home viewing in just a little while, they're less likely to invest in a trip to the theater. If you assume -- rationally -- that a given movie will ultimately make only a certain amount of money, shortening the DVD window decreases distributors' slice of the pie -- or so the theater owners argue.

This isn't the first time that disputes over revenue sharing have spilled over and threatened to affect moviegoers. Back in 2001, Regal refused to show Rush Hour 2 because New Line wouldn't budge on contract terms. The movie opened to $67 million anyway, and Regal was seen as having blundered. A couple years ago, British cinemas pulled the plug on Night at the Museum in the middle of its release when Fox decided to put the movie on DVD just over 12 weeks after release. More recently, Regal balked at having to foot the bill for 3D glasses and threatened to show Ice Age 3 in 2D only, but that turned out to be a bluff (possibly because Fox had Avatar in the pipeline).
categories Movies, Cinematical