AMC May Boycott Alice in Wonderland

Posted February 20th, 2010 at 11:48 am

A fascinating story has been brewing over the last couple weeks as Disney attempts to push forward with a plan to shorten the theatrical runs of its films. Generally movies are available to theaters for 17 weeks before they can move to DVD. Disney however is trying to change that to just 12 weeks with the first being Alice in Wonderland which is slated to open on March 5th.

Theaters are upset with this idea because of the way box office receipts are distributed. Depending on the movie different percentages are negotiated between the studio and theater chains. For the most part though the first couple weeks the studio gets 90+ percent of the box office grosses. The longer the movie carries on that percentage drops and the theater starts to make money. That is why the idea of shortening the run has become such a point of contention.

Disney has faced backlash overseas with cinema operators banding together in the Netherlands to boycott Alice. There are also two British theater companies who are refusing to show it. Now Disney is at odds with AMC Theaters in the US and their over 4500 screens across the nation. The two have still not come to an agreement to screen the movie.

This is another strategy that is believed by the studios to result in a boost to DVD sales. We’ve seen that recently with the DVD sales only period that has been instituted by Warner Brothers and will likely be followed by others in the near future. Here Disney believes that by shortening the theatrical run, and subsequently getting their films out as DVDs faster, interest will be higher and more will be willing to purchase them.

Most expect that Disney and AMC will come to an agreement even if it is taken down to the wire. Alice in Wonderland would suffer by not being shown in AMC theaters. The chain is the second largest in the country so it would severely restrict the number of screens and areas it would be showing in as well as damage the profits that would be had from 3D screenings that it would be missing out on.  It will be interesting to see which side backs down or the eventual compromise that is come to.