20th Century Fox has a short memory ... or a lot of nerve. Despite the studio's very recent battle with German exhibitors on the issue of release windows -- which it lost -- Fox continues to see how far it can go with shrinking the time between its films' theatrical debut and video debut. This time Fox has upset the British market, announcing a UK DVD release date for Night at the Museum that is barely three months after the comedy's bow in UK cinemas. Like in Germany, there will be a boycott of the movie by most theater chains. Beginning tomorrow, Night at the Museum will not be shown in cinemas run by Cineworld, Odeon, Vue and Showcase.
People in the UK can still see the movie this weekend, but only at Empire, Apollo and some independent theaters, all of which claim a stronger obligation to the customers than to the goodness of a united national position (even though they apparently agree with that position). Despite the absence of real support from the little guys -- some of which, it is probable, need that Museum business this weekend -- Fox is likely to be hurt by the boycott. Museum is the second biggest movie of the season in the UK, and without the theatrical hiatus, it would continue to make the studio millions over the weekend. It is interesting to point out that Eragon, which is one of the films involved in the German boycott, is not part of the threat/action, possibly because it isn't performing nearly as well.
Hopefully, for customers, exhibitors and the image of Fox, there will be the announcement of a postponement of the Museum DVD before tomorrow morning. Otherwise, you'll hear of other effects come Monday.